Sunday, June 24, 2018
Colleges

How a Gainesville food company exposed the Gators' fraud scandal

Jeremiah Loper didn't plan to make the first report in a criminal investigation hanging over the University of Florida's nationally ranked football program.

Loper, 40, said he wanted to work things out with the college student before telling the authorities about fraudulent charges made to his Gainesville food delivery company.

So Loper emailed Gators offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort directly: It looks like you've been committing credit card fraud on our website. If you don't give us a call, we'll call the police.

"I tried to give him an opportunity to make it right, you know?" Loper said.

Telfort never responded, Loper said, thus setting off a credit card fraud case that has nine Gators facing a total of 66 felony complaints.

This wasn't the first time Loper's business, 352 Delivery, was the apparent victim of credit card fraud. The company had to tighten its security after losing several thousand dollars this spring.

When Loper saw some charge-backs from July, he began to dig deeper. Loper said it looked as if Telfort would try one credit card and address, then another, and another, until he successfully ordered his bunless burger or junk food.

"He was going down a list," Loper said. "All in all, it was pretty obvious when I saw that. This is credit card fraud."

RELATED: Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal

Loper gave Telfort a few days to respond to his email. Soon enough, it didn't matter.

On Aug. 13, the Gators announced that Telfort and six others were suspended for misusing school-related financial cards at the bookstore.

"I'm reading the article — there's his name," Loper said. "Man, so this is bigger than whatever I saw."

Loper reported Telfort to the University of Florida Police Department the next day. Twenty-three of the 30 felony complaints Telfort faces stem from his interaction with the delivery company. Telfort has entered a written not guilty plea, and his attorney, Peter Schoenthal, has declined to comment.

Because the State Attorney's Office is still investigating, many details are not yet public. Nine Gators — including Telfort, standout receiver Antonio Callaway and starting running back Jordan Scarlett — are accused of using stolen credit cards to fund their bookstore debit accounts.

While Loper lost $89.48, he said that wasn't the biggest reason why he called police. If his company was affected, how many other local businesses were, too? And what about the people whose cards were stolen?

"That could be their food money," Loper said. "It could be taken from them and spent on Beats headphones."

The players remain indefinitely suspended from the No. 21-ranked Gators, who lead the SEC East heading into Saturday's home game against Vanderbilt. Coach Jim McElwain said their status with the team won't change until the legal system runs its course — a process that will take weeks, if not months.

Loper said UF police asked him if he was sure he wanted to pursue the case because of the "blowback" he might receive. Loper said yes.

RELATED: Victims of Florida Gator credit card scandal speak out

He understands that some fans will be upset, because he's a fan, too. He has lived in Gainesville for years. His fiancée is a UF student. His father works there.

Loper wants the Gators to win, but only with integrity. And that, Loper said, means dismissing Telfort and the eight others.

"I definitely don't want them on the team," Loper said. "They're criminals."

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Brady Singer, Gators eliminated by Arkansas at CWS

Times wiresOMAHA, Neb.  —Defending champion Florida failed to win a third straight elimination game, losing to Arkansas 5-2 Friday night and departing the College World Series.The Gators (49-21) had to win to force a rematch. The Razorback...
Published: 06/22/18
Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

Florida eliminates Texas Tech at College World Series, faces Arkansas for title-round spot

OMAHA, Neb. — JJ Schwarz hit a two-run homer and Florida built enough cushion to survive Texas Tech's six-run outburst over the seventh and eighth innings to eliminate the Red Raiders from the College World Series with a 9-6 win Thursday night....
Published: 06/22/18
Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

For the first time in almost two decades, Florida and Florida State will open the men's basketball season against each other.The Seminoles will host UF on Nov. 6, both programs announced Wednesday morning. FSU has won four in a row in the series."Any...
Published: 06/20/18
With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

Florida State's primetime opener against Virginia Tech looks a little tougher now than it did a few days ago.Hokies starting quarterback Josh Jackson has had his academic eligibility resolved and remains on the team, the Roanoke Times reported Tuesda...
Published: 06/19/18
As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part in an evolving relationship between college sports and alcohol, as my colleague, Joey Knight, wrote on the front page ...
Published: 06/18/18
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Published: 06/15/18
Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rex Culpepper is back. The smile on his face said it all. The redshirt sophomore quarterback had his first full workout with Syracuse on Friday after overcoming testicular cancer. He said he broke down and cried when he was told he w...
Published: 06/15/18
Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

During his question-and-answer session with more than 500 Manatee-Sarasota boosters Monday evening, FSU's Willie Taggart was peppered with the normal inquiries about recruiting, offensive scheme and the Seminoles' quarterback derby.All well and good....
Published: 06/12/18
When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he was the first...
Published: 06/12/18
FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly efficient opti...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18