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
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
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.