William Joseph and Michael Bennett, ex-NFL Players, Busted By FBI In Tax Fraud Case

At the University of Miami, William Joseph was a star of the 2001 national championship team's fearsome defense, leading the Canes in QB sacks and tackles for a loss. Joseph has since retired from football after an eight-year NFL career, but he'd better hope he's still got some killer defense left in him.

The FBI has arrested Joseph and two other ex-football stars -- former Pro Bowl running back Michael Bennett and tackle Louis Gachelin -- for allegedly trying to cash hundreds of thousands in bogus tax refunds and fake loans in North Miami.

To nab the ex-players, the feds set up a fake check cashing store in North Miami, the Miami Herald reports, and used an informant -- a 34-year-old from Miami Lakes named Lanny Fried who'd been caught earlier trying to cash fake returns.

Fried introduced Joseph to the FBI's undercover check-cashing store, and prosecutors say the former Hurricanes star tried to cash hundreds of thousands worth of fake tax return checks that he'd forged signatures on and matched with fake IDs.

Joseph, in turn, roped Bennett into the feds' net. The running back, who now lives in Tampa, tried to cash in a bogus $200,000 loan at the store, the FBI says.

All three were arrested on Monday, and granted bonds yesterday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube.

Joseph was one of the best defensive tackles ever to come out of Miami; he starred at Miami Edison before coming to UM, where he won a national title in 2001 and earned first-team Big East honors his senior year. He was drafted in the first round by the Giants in 2003 and later played for the Raiders before retiring in 2010.

Bennett, meanwhile, was one of the fastest running backs in NFL history, making the Pro Bowl for the Vikings in 2002 after starring at the University of Wisconsin. He's been out of football since last September.

Gachelin never made the NFL (though he was drafted by the Patriots); he starred at Miami Jackson and went on to play at Syracuse.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink