Jury finds former Viking Stu Voigt guilty of bank fraud charge


A federal jury has convicted a former Minnesota Viking and his business partner on fraud charges in connection with a scheme that prosecutors say bilked investors out of millions of dollars.

The jury found former Vikings tight end Stu Voigt guilty of one count of bank fraud and not guilty of another bank fraud charge. The jury also convicted his business partner, Jeffrey Gardner, on all but one of the nearly dozen charges he faced.

Jurors reached the verdict Friday afternoon following 2 1/2 days of deliberations at U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Gardner was accused of using money invested in his Hennessey Financial LLC for commercial real estate projects to pay off prior investors and other debts instead of financing new projects. He faced multiple charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud and making false statements on a loan application – he was found not guilty on one of the false statement charges.

KARE 11 reports authorities accused Voigt, while he was chairman of First Commercial Bank in Bloomington, of not disclosing debts Gardner owed him when Gardner applied for a line of credit.

One of Voigt's attorneys, Andrew Birrell, argued that Voigt didn't intend to defraud anyone. The Star Tribune notes that Birrell claimed Gardner's presentation to the bank included a note that his statement did not include $12 million in liabilities.

Birrell asked why Voigt, "the guy with the biggest share in the bank" would decide to defraud it.

Voigt played for the Vikings from 1970 to 1980.

The Associated Press notes that both men will be sentenced later.

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