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Strapped for cash, he began looking for a loan, but his credit was shot. A friend introduced him to an Iowa-based Community State Bank officer named Brian Jermaine Williams, "who could get the deal done," Robinson later testified. In October 2004, Williams authorized a $377,000 loan to Megaladon, prosecutors claim. The next day, Robinson wired a $100,000 bribe to the rogue banker.
Over the next 18 months, the FBI claims, Williams authorized loans and wired more than $1.2 million to accounts controlled by Robinson, Hodge, or her brother Steven. The total was kept to less than $500,000 per individual to avoid attracting the bank's attention. Williams even altered the loan terms to give Robinson and his cronies more time to make payments.
Megaladon, which never broke ground in Jamaica, quickly fell behind. In August 2006, Community State Bank filed suit and found Robinson had spent the money on clothing and jewelry at upscale boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Bodega, and the Royal Shop. He had bought steak dinners, plane tickets, and expensive hotel stays at a Jamaican Ritz-Carlton, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and the Abbey Hotel in Miami Beach. He had blown nearly $800 on smokes at Coco Cigar in Coconut Grove, and even purchased a $10,000 M16 machine gun at Miami Police Supply in Little Havana.
He also leased at least three luxury Mercedes and BMW vehicles and bought new Ducati motorcycles. When he didn't pay those bills, creditors demanded back the vehicles. Since 2006, Robinson has also been sued in Miami-Dade Court for not paying the leases on two Mercedes and a 2005 Maserati Quattroporte.
And he didn't drive those precious vehicles very carefully. He has racked up 18 moving violations in Miami-Dade since 2001, including twice driving with a suspended license. Robinson spent $1,500 of the business loan cash at Traffic Ticket Guy, a Deerfield Beach law firm.
In October, 2006, Community State Bank won the civil lawsuit, and Megaladon was ordered to pay $538,000 in damages. But the former baller hasn't filed a tax return since his NBA days, and when lawyers trying to figure out his finances deposed him, Robinson claimed his net worth was "zero." Having been evicted from his Aventura condo, he was bouncing between motels and living on "$20 here or there."
"Where are your possessions?" the deposing attorney, Gary Lehman, asked Robinson in February 2007.
"It's in front of you," Robinson replied, indicating the clothes on his body — before admitting, when pressed, he had a "different pair of pants in the hotel."
But even in poverty, Robinson maintained VIP friends. Lehman asked, "What are you going to do about dinner tonight?"
"The prime minister of the Cayman Islands is coming in, so maybe he'll pay," Robinson ruminated. "I don't know."
Barrows, who lived in Miami until recently, recalls spending an evening with his brother in 2007: "He pulled up in a brand-new Mercedes SL500. He asked me if I had $20 for gas. He took me to seven or eight strip clubs, starting with Tootsie's. He would buy a Coke and nurse it for an hour or two, and I didn't see him give a dollar to the dancers."
This past August 24, the FBI indicted Robinson, Hodge, and Williams for the roles in the alleged Community State Bank scam. The charges: bank fraud, bank bribery, making false statements to a financial institution, and wire fraud. On September 4, Robinson surrendered to U.S. marshals in Miami and posted a $50,000 bond. His trial begins in Iowa federal court November 30.
When Robinson was deposed for the civil suit, he blamed Williams: "You said it's a violation of banking law; Mr. Williams is the banker," he testified. "I didn't hold him over a barrel telling him to give me the money."
His girlfriend, Hodge, has since left him, stating in deposition she now lives with a wealthy Miami doctor.
And earlier this month, Robinson sparked outrage in his hometown when the Cambridge Chronicle reported he had caused his adoptive mother to be booted from her home. Ford claims Robinson tricked her into signing a deed that sold the house to a business associate for $600,000. She received no money. Though Robinson assured her he would take care of the situation, he did nothing. In April 2009, she was forcibly removed. Grandchildren living with her had to find other homes, and she moved to a small apartment.
Now she's considering suing the boy she brought up.
"Tell her to get in line," responds Robinson's lawyer, Rodriguez. "We have bigger fish to fry."