Fadi Afash, a former star of the USL's Portland Timbers, pleaded guilty to stealing an estimated $137,000 from a retired couple and faces 17 months in prison time after pleading guilty to four counts of identity theft, forgery, theft and unlawful use of a check.
The Columbian reported that Afash, 32, met the couple in 2004 at a Washington casino, where he gambled with the pair and gave them tickets to see him play with the Timbers.
"He just seemed like a real nice guy. He said, 'Do you want to come watch a soccer game?'" said one of the victims, Diane Waddell.
Afash, a native of Syria who became a U.S. citizen in 2004, told the couple that the Department of Homeland Security had frozen his accounts and convinced them to give him loans, which he repaid at first. He spent time at the couple's house, helped with chores on their rural, 10-acre Clark County farm and "was like another family member," said Diane Waddell. He also began successfully applying for credit cards in their names and forging their checks.
Afash joined the Timbers in 2002 after stints with Stanislaus County (Calif.) Cruisers and Utah Blitz. He shared the USL1 leading scorer title with 18 goals in his first season with the Timbers and notched nine more goals through 2004.
Afash's court-appointed attorney said Afash had a gambling problem.