Self-styled financial guru headed for prison after defrauding pro athletes out of millions

Posted at 3:48 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 16:48:05-05

A woman claiming to be a financial adviser and money manager has been sentenced to 120 months in prison for defrauding pro athletes like former NBA players Travis Best and Dennis Rodman and NFL players Ricky Williams and Lex Hilliard out of millions of dollars.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison sentenced Peggy Ann Fulford, 60, formerly of Houston and New Orleans. She pleaded guilty on Feb. 1 to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.

Fulford received a 120-month prison sentence followed immediately by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $5,794,870 in restitution to the victims.

At the hearing, the court heard from Kristin Williams, former wife of Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams, and Rebekah Hilliard, wife of former NFL player Lex Hilliard, who detailed how Fulford’s theft had devastated them and their families financially. During the hearing, Judge Ellison asked Kristin Williams how much of Ricky Williams’ NFL money Fulford got, to which she replied “All of it.”

While on bond in this case and after pleading guilty, Fulford had used the name “Peggy Jones.” During the hearing today, a New Orleans-area man provided additional testimony describing how Fulford, whom he knew as Jones, recently swindled him out of $25,000 to invest in a bogus medical company in Arizona.

In handing down the sentence, the court overruled all defense objections and gave Fulford the statutory maximum sentence of 120 months.

Fulford has also been known to use several aliases, including Peggy King, Peggy Williams, Peggy Simpson, Peggy Rivers, Peggy Barard, Devon Cole and Devon Barard.

Fulford admitted she falsely told victims she was a Harvard-educated financial advisor and money manager. She offered to manage their expenses for them and use their money exclusively to pay their bills, including their income tax payments and/or to make retirement investments for them. Instead, Fulford diverted millions of victim funds that she laundered through dozens of bank accounts to pay for her own personal expenses.

Fulford falsely told victims she graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and that she had made millions on Wall Street by buying and selling hospitals or on real estate in the Bahamas. She never requested a fee because she told the victims she already had millions of dollars and just wanted to protect them from losing their money.

However, she used most of their money, or intended to use most of their money, for her own personal purposes. Fulford communicated with victims in person, by phone and by email, inducing them to open or give her access to bank accounts which she raided and used for personal expenses such as luxury cars, real estate, jewelry and airline tickets.

In carrying out her scheme to defraud, Fulford moved victim funds back and forth between various bank accounts. As part of the plea, Fulford admitted she moved $200,000 in stolen funds from a bank account in Montana to a bank account in Texas.

She has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined soon.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Belinda Beek is prosecuting the case.