S'pore gives American 16 months in jail for scam

A former U.S. university football player was sentenced Monday to 16 months in prison in Singapore for his involvement in a telephone scam.

Kamari Charlton, 37, received about 330,000 Singapore dollars ($259,000) from elderly Croatian immigrants living in Australia and Germany who were tricked into sending money to him between 2008 and 2010, Judge See Kee Oon said.

Charlton, who was a reserve tight end for Florida State University from 1992 to 1996, pleaded guilty last week to five counts of dishonestly receiving stolen property. He was initially charged with 21 counts of money laundering and one count of overstaying his visa.

During the case, he claimed not to know about the scam, but admitted he had good reason to think the money he received was obtained through illegal activity.

According to the police investigation, Croatians living in Australia or Germany received a phone call from a Croatian-speaking female claiming to be from the Croatian embassy in Singapore saying a family member of the victim had lost his passport and been detained and sometimes was ill. The victim was then asked to send money to Charlton.

None of this money has been recovered, Judge See said. Charlton's alleged accomplices are still at large, prosecutors said.

When Charlton was first arrested, he said he had come to Singapore to receive medical care for his wife, who was having a complicated pregnancy. He was arrested trying to leave the country on a 90-day visa that had expired by 169 days.

Charlton — who wore a white t-shirt, brown prison pants, sandals, and a long bushy beard — told the judge before the ruling that his weight has dropped to 95 kilograms (209 pounds) from 129 kilograms (284 pounds) since his arrest.

"This situation has been very stressful for me," said Charlton, who was handcuffed to another prisoner being sentenced in a separate case. "I'm very sorry people were scammed."

The sentence includes the five and a half months Charlton has already served since he was arrested Sept. 1, and he could be released in July for good behavior.

Hamidul Haq, Charlton's lawyer, said his client would not appeal the sentence.

No family members or friends were at the sentencing. A representative of the U.S. embassy declined to comment.