Ex-NFL WR Kenbrell Thompkins Accused of ID Theft, Faces 10-Plus Years in Prison

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2021

New York Jets wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, wearing a visor, runs onto the field during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Florham Park, N.J.  The Jets are preparing for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills and their former coach Rex Ryan. If they defeat the Bills Sunday, they will earn a wild card spot in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Former NFL wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has been charged with access device fraud and aggravated identity theft as part of a scheme to steal funds from programs set up by the CARES Act.

The Department of Justice issued a statement on March 26 detailing the allegations against Thompkins:

"It is alleged in court documents that Thompkins used the stolen identities of numerous Florida residents to obtain fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits from the State of California. California distributed these unemployment benefit funds in the form of debit cards, which were subsequently mailed to addresses associated with Thompkins in Miami and Aventura, Florida."

The Boston Globe's Ben Volin noted the device fraud charge carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, while the identity theft charge would levy a mandatory two-year sentence.

The DOJ alleges Thompkins went to multiple ATMs from Aug. 16 to Sept. 23 to withdraw around $230,000 using the debit cards.

Per Volin, authorities identified the 32-year-old by using security footage and matching distinct tattoos on his forearm. That prompted a search of his apartment in January, at which point officials say they discovered "multiple envelopes sent from the state of California addressed to the names of the identities that were stolen."

The case against Thompkins is one of 18 the Southern District of Florida has filed in the last 30 days centered around COVID-19 relief-related fraud.

Thompkins played three seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets. Despite opening the 2014 campaign with the team, he didn't remain in New England for the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX victory against the Seattle Seahawks.

Thompkins caught 70 passes for 893 yards and four touchdowns over 33 career NFL games.