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Friday, October 17, 2003
Former Vikings security guard pleads guilty in identity theft


MINNEAPOLIS -- A former Eden Prairie police officer who worked part time as a Minnesota Vikings security guard pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining credit cards in the name of running back Michael Bennett.

Brent D. Griffith, 37, of Benson, pleaded guilty Thursday in Hennepin County District Court to one felony count of financial transaction card fraud. He admitted he took personal information from Bennett, applied for credit cards and then used one of the cards at least five times to buy about $120 worth of merchandise.

Griffith was scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 11 by Judge Richard Hopper. No plea agreement was arranged, and County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said her office will seek at least 90 days of workhouse time.

According to a criminal complaint, Bennett had reported receiving letters from three credit card companies that had opened accounts in his name. Bennett said his correct name and Social Security number were used, but the wrong maiden name of his mother was given. The letters were addressed to the Vikings' headquarters in Eden Prairie.

On Aug. 4, Bennett contacted the team's security representative about receiving credit card statements from a gasoline company of which he had no knowledge. Surveillance tapes from the stores identified Griffith as the person using the card, the complaint said.

Eden Prairie officers searched Griffith's work locker on Aug. 14 and found personal information about several players, including credit card applications, a medical bill, a 1099 tax form, court papers and a hotel rewards card. A search of his home turned up 18 Vikings season tickets valued at $1,476 that were identified as belonging to an equipment manager.

He was soon fired from both the police department and Vikings.

Griffith, a former offensive lineman at Minnesota Duluth, was taken in the seventh round of the 1990 National Football League draft by Buffalo, where he played for a season. He had a tryout with the Vikings in 1992.