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Financial Crime: Disbarred lawyer with ‘crippling’ gambling problem admits stealing nearly $2 million in Philadelphia Eagles’ seat-license scam

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A disbarred-New Jersey lawyer has pleaded guilty to stealing almost $2 million he raised in a phony Philadelphia Eagles seat-license scheme, and using it to support his “crippling” gambling addiction.

Frank N. Tobolsky, 59, of Cherry Hill, N.J. admitted approaching an investor in Delaware in 2013 to help finance a business that would provide loans to Eagles fans who held seat licenses, federal prosecutors said. The investor was told the licenses would be used for collateral for the loans.

Over the next three years, Tobolsky convinced the investor to plunk down $2.4 million for the scheme. But prosecutors say there were no Eagles fans taking loans or seat licenses being held in collateral. 

Personal seat licenses allow the holder to buy season tickets to see home games for their favorite team, with the proceeds typically being used to help the team pay off the cost of building new stadiums. They are most commonly used in the U.S. by National Football League franchises.

Tobolsky did return some of the money to the investors as purported profits from the business, but prosecutors say he used a substantial portion for personal expenses, including big withdrawals at casinos.

Ultimately, Tobolsky’s gambling problem cost him his law license and practice in Merchantville, N.J. He was disbarred in 2018 after being arrested for pillaging his escrow account and using $32,000 of a client’s money from a home sale to support his gambling problem.

In testimony before a state disciplinary review board that year, Tobolsky described having a “crippling” and “debilitating” gambling addiction that caused him to go “out of his mind.”

He was arrested in April on eight counts of wire fraud in the seat-license scam. He pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of wire fraud.

A message left with Tobolsky’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned. Tobolsky faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in February, prosecutors said.

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