Denison resident Christopher Mitchell was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of up to 10 years Thursday after pleading guilty to five counts of theft.
The sentence is a result of Mitchell’s actions as organizer of the First Annual Denison Football Clinic in June, 2013. According to the Grayson County District Attorney’s office, Mitchell stole $40,342 in goods and services from local businesses, musicians and two National Football League stars through writing hot checks.
Professional football players Antonio Brown and Chris Carter, both members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, were promised $25,000 and $3,000 respectively to give clinics and sign autographs for participants in Mitchell’s camp. When the players arrived in Denison, Mitchell gave them each a personal check from his fiancee Brenda Harper’s checking account. Both checks bounced, said Assistant District Attorney Britton Brooks.
Mitchell also wrote hot checks from Harper’s account to cover 665 T-shirts from a local printer, transportation and lodging at a Denison hotel, equipment from a local music store for a concert after the camp, and an appearance from a local Christian rock band.
When the manager of the defrauded hotel called Mitchell and Harper, he was reportedly told, “You got screwed over, so own it.”
Harper also pleaded guilty to five counts of theft, and was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication.
The case was investigated by Detective Stuart Prigge of the Denison Police Department, who passed it to the DA’s office.
“This should have been a great opportunity for our region, bringing in big name stars like (Brown and Carter),” said Brooks. “So naturally, (District Attorney) Joe Brown took this kind of thing very seriously.”
“The Denison Police did a great job investigating, and I am very glad that all of the victims in the case will get full restitution,” Brooks said.
Both Jeremy Poet, who represented Mitchell, or Timothy Haney, who represented Harper, declined to comment on the case.