MARTINEZ -- Charges against a high-school football coach and former NFL fullback were dismissed Wednesday after the Super Bowl winner, accused of fraudulently renting out vacant homes, fulfilled his yearlong agreement to obey all laws and reimburse the victims of the elaborate Internet scam, a prosecutor said.
James Hodgins, 36, was arrested in June 2010 after authorities discovered he had been renting out vacant homes at various stages of the foreclosure process, none of which he actually owned.
The Oakley resident, who in January was hired as the football coach at Berean Christian High School in Walnut Creek, was charged with three felony counts of grand theft by false pretenses and three felony counts of second-degree burglary for his role in the common scam. Six victims were bilked out of thousands of dollars paying for the three Oakley houses he listed, according to prosecutors.
The home "rentals" were posted on Craigslist using fake names and dummy corporations, and prospective renters met with someone posing as a homeowner or real estate agent who asked for a cash deposit as well as first and last months' rent, police said after Hodgins' arrest.
The renters learned their housing agreements were bogus when a bank representative, real estate agent or resident with actual claim to the home showed up, often while the renters were settling in, according to Oakley police. In at least one case, police broke the news to a victim.
"It's the same story, over and over," deputy district attorney Ken McCormick said. "People break in, change the locks and then rent to unsuspecting victims."
The case was dismissed Wednesday based on a negotiated disposition, where Hodgins pleaded guilty to the charges in exchange for an agreement that if he obeyed all laws and reimbursed his victims that the case would be dismissed after a year, McCormick said. Hodgins also added a term of his own, that he donate $5,000 to the American Cancer Society.
"We dismissed in the case in the interest of justice, but it doesn't mean it didn't happen," McCormick said. "Logistically the case was dismissed based on his early admission of wrongdoing and reimbursement of the victims. Bottom line."
His accomplice, 42-year-old Carlos Gomez, of Oakley, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in fall 2011 and was sentenced to three years probation.
Hodgins played fullback for the St. Louis Rams when they won the Super Bowl in 2000. A San Jose State alumnus, he also played for the Arizona Cardinals and finished his football career with the New York Jets in 2006.