Former Miami Dolphin imprisoned for identity theft

Former Miami Dolphin imprisoned for identity theft

A South Florida man who briefly played with the Miami Dolphins was sentenced to close to 13 years in federal prison Wednesday for identity theft..

Richard Siler, 50, of Hollywood, sold more than 5,000 names and Social Security numbers to a man he knew planned to use them to file fraudulent income tax returns, jurors decided in his August trial in federal court in Miami.

Siler apologized in court Wednesday, but portrayed himself as a legitimate businessman.

“I sold names and numbers for a living,” he told the judge. “All I ever asked for was 50 cents a name.”

The former self-employed salesman said he obtained the identities from lists of people who applied for mortgages, reverse mortgages, debt consolidation and health care services.

But U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles said Siler ignored the fact that he abused the trust of people who handed over their names and other personal information, not expecting it would be used to commit fraud.

Siler’s crimes were serious, the judge said, because they violated people’s trust and left them vulnerable to fraud.

“You just don’t seem to get that,” Gayles said.

Victims endured significant repercussions, including ruined credit ratings and delayed tax refunds, the judge told him.

Prosecutor Michael Berger recommended a prison term of 11 years; Siler’s lawyer Samuel Rabin said eight years would be more than enough.

But the judge sentenced Siler to 12 years and 10 months, saying he deserved a more severe punishment for his behavior in the identity theft case and because he had not been reformed by his prior incarceration for a series of crimes.

The judge said it was hard to understand how Siler — a talented athlete and “a smart and articulate man” — wound up spending most of his adult life in trouble.

Siler was a former college football star at Texas A&M and a tight end who played one season for the Miami Dolphins as a replacement during the NFL players’ strike of 1987.

His criminal record included a year in jail for the manslaughter of a 17-year-old girl who died when he fired a gun into a crowd in the Daytona Beach area in the 1980s. At the time, police called it a “joke” to scare teens.

Siler was arrested for the identity theft with the help of a man who bought the identities from him.

Freddie Howard, 56, of Davie and Plantation, worked undercover with investigators after he got caught ripping off about $4.5 million by filing phony tax returns. Howard, a former Miami-Dade teacher, was sentenced to four years in prison because he pleaded guilty and testified against Siler.

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