Fantasy golf writer David Staral Jr. was sentenced to 41 months in prison on May 11 by a federal judge following a conviction on charges he scammed the Arena Football League into purchasing the now-defunct Chicago Rush team.
Before Staral began writing about fantasy golf, the Chicago-area native purchased the Rush from the AFL in 2013, representing himself as a flashy financial adviser that would be the franchise's savior, allowing it to continue operations. He represented himself as having $5 million in assets when, in fact, he had recently declared bankruptcy. The AFL, in desperate search for a franchise owner, turned over the Rush to Staral, having apparently not done the proper due diligence into Staral's past, which included multiple criminal convictions -- among them, embezzling from a former employer.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman, according to the Chicago Tribune, said in sentencing Staral on charges of bankruptcy and wire fraud that "he'd never seen anyone in his nearly two decades on the bench who'd pulled off such a variety of scams over such a long period of time."
Staral basically was playing two sides of the coin simultaneously. While he was negotiating a $1 million purchase of the Rush, he was telling bankruptcy judges that he was essentially worthless in an effort to get out of a separate $1 million in debt. In further fraud, Staral didn't disclose he was on probation for his three prior criminal convictions or that he had failed in making $5,000-per-month restitution payments.
Staral used proceeds from Rush ticket sales to pay off personal debts, including a car payment and grocery bills. His story began to unravel when a $50,000 check bounced to team host Allstate Arena for home games. By midseason, he had lost ownership of the franchise. The AFL now exists with five teams, none of them in Chicago.
Before Guzman, Staral, now 38, said he was a changed man and had "done right be everybody." Staral, however, remains party in multiple civil suits alleging Ponzi-style schemes with investments into a variety of concocted ventures.
Prosecutors had been seeking anywhere from 41-51 months in prison in a sentencing memorandum.
Staral was known on Twitter under multiple accounts, including @nochalkDFS, @caddalytics and @EuroTourDFS. His fantasy golf work was acquired by Fantasy Golf Insider in 2016.