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20 Jan, 2021 14:41

NFL great Brian Urlacher's brother, who was facing 10-year jail sentence over gambling ring, cops last-gasp Donald Trump pardon

NFL great Brian Urlacher's brother, who was facing 10-year jail sentence over gambling ring, cops last-gasp Donald Trump pardon

Outgoing US president Donald Trump has named Casey Urlacher in a spree of final-day presidential pardons after his NFL Hall of Fame brother, Brian Urlacher, petitioned Trump for clemency following his sports gambling conviction.

Casey Urlacher, 41, was one of a spate of pardons announced in the final hours of the Trump administration after he faced federal charges for involvement in a sports gambling ring that received hundreds of millions of dollars from Chicago-based gamblers.

Trump's leniency comes after former Chicago Bears standout Brian Urlacher visited the White House last year, with speculation rampant at the time that the purpose of the meeting was related to the Urlachers requesting a pardon. Urlacher pleaded not guilty to the charges last March.

Brian Urlacher posted a photograph to Instagram last year showing him and Trump in the Oval Office with Urlacher's famous #54 jersey draped across the resolute desk.

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"This was a once in a lifetime experience!" he wrote at the time. "Got to hang in the Oval Office with President Trump and my family. He could not have been any nicer or accommodating to all of us."

In a statement with around 12 hours of the Trump administration remaining, the White House announced: "President Trump granted a full pardon to Casey Urlacher.

"This pardon is supported by his friends and family, and countless members of his community. Mr Urlacher has been charged with conspiracy to engage in illegal gambling.

"Throughout his life, Mr Urlacher has been committed to public service and has consistently given back to his community.

"Currently, Mr Urlacher serves as the unpaid Mayor of Mettawa, Illinois. He is a devoted husband to his wife and a loving father to his 17-month-old daughter."

Casey Urlacher was charged in February last year with conspiracy and participating in the running of an illegal gambling operation in which he would recruit gamblers in exchange for a cut of their losses. He was understood to be facing 10 years in prison had he been convicted of the charges.

Urlacher was among more than 140 people to have been issued with a pardon by Trump during the dying embers of his administration, with the list also including former advisor Steve Bannon as well as rappers, people connected to his family and former members of Congress. 

Brian Urlacher has been a noted supporter of Trump and made a donation of $6,125 to the Trump re-election campaign, the first portion of which came just four days after charges were brought against his brother.

Urlacher has drawn criticism from his former NFL team, the Chicago Bears, for some of his outspoken comments on social media, including one social media post which called for charges to be dropped against Kyle Rittenhouse - the teenage gunman facing murder charges for allegedly shooting two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin amid scenes of public unrest last summer.

"The social media posts in no way reflect the values or opinions of the Chicago Bears organization," the team said in a statement last year.

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