Man in NFL case charged with stealing from girlfriend

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The man accused of bilking NFL players out of cash in a phone scheme also stole a credit card in July and used it to wire $4,000 to an individual and buy airline tickets, according to charges filed against him based on an ex-girlfriend's complaint.

In charges filed Dec. 14, Jorielle R. Brown of Elkridge said that Lewis V. Sills, 30, called her credit card company, MBNA Corp., "disguised himself as me" on the phone and successfully changed her personal identification number.

He then used the credit card to withdraw money from her account at three ATMs and purchased airline tickets, Brown said in the Howard County District Court filing.

A representative for MBNA Corp. could not be reached last night.

Brown also said that Sills used her card to wire $4,000 through Western Union to another man.

Brown, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said in the court filing that Sills left her apartment Dec. 7 and went to live at an Econo Lodge in Elkridge.

As a result of Brown's claims, authorities attempted last month to serve a summons on Sills, who had been living out of various Elkridge motels, but it was returned unserved.

After Sills left Brown's apartment, police say, he began a phone scheme that targeted several NFL players.

On Dec. 17, he is accused of contacting Darrell Green, a retired Washington Redskins player, fabricated an "elaborate tale" and persuaded him to send $900 via a wire transfer to a Super Fresh grocery store in Elkridge. During the phone call, he pretended to be Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware, police said.

Boulware, who was in Florida yesterday with family, expressed dismay over the incident.

"I was very surprised, and I was alarmed," he said. "I am wondering how this particular person got the information about me and how he was doing it. It's kind of frustrating, and I'm just glad it's over."

Donovan McNabb, quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, was the next victim, according to Howard County police.

The suspect is accused of calling McNabb and pretending to be James Thrash, a former teammate who now plays for the Redskins, and again "fabricated an elaborate, desperate tale."

Through Western Union, McNabb forwarded $600 to the man, who picked it up at the grocery store by signing Thrash's name, police said.

On Dec. 28, Sills allegedly called Warren Sapp, a defensive lineman with the Oakland Raiders, who grew suspicious after the caller identified himself as Laveranues Coles, another Redskins player. Sapp notified his financial manager, who called NFL security officials. The NFL then contacted Howard police, who set up a sting operation that day, authorities said.

As part of the sting, Sapp's financial manager wired $525 to Elkridge. After Sills entered the store, identified himself as Coles and used a code word to retrieve the money, Howard detectives approached him and attempted to arrest him. He fled and resisted arrest before being detained, police said.

Sills was charged with several counts of theft and identify theft, as well as resisting arrest and assaulting police officers.

He was released Dec. 28 on his own recognizance. But after further investigation, Howard police linked the suspect to the incidents involving McNabb and Green, and they rearrested him Thursday. He is being held at the Howard County Detention Center in lieu of $5,000 bond.

Howard police and NFL officials did not release additional information about the case yesterday.

At one point, Sills lived in Georgia. Erika Sills, a sister who answered the phone at his parents' home in Decatur, was unwilling to talk about her brother.

"We have no comment, thank you," she said.

Sun staff writer Milton Kent contributed to this article.

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