Ex-Viking Bennett pleads guilty

MIAMI (AP) — Former Minnesota Viking Michael Bennett has pleaded guilty to his role in a South Florida tax refund and identity theft scheme.

Court records show Bennett pleaded guilty last week to one count of wire fraud. As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend less than the possible 20-year sentence.

Prosecutors say the FBI operated an undercover check-cashing store in North Miami used by Bennett and seven others — including two other former football players — from February through April. The group allegedly cashed about $500,000 in fraudulent refund checks.

Former Oakland Raiders and New York Giants defensive tackle William Joseph has a change of plea hearing scheduled for next week. Louis Gachelin, who played professionally in Europe, previously pleaded guilty to theft charges.

Bennett, 33, is a former first-round draft choice for the Vikings in 2001. The former University of Wisconsin star — who rushed for 1,592 yards as a Badger during his junior year — made a Pro Bowl with Minnesota in 2002, when he rushed for 1,296 yards.

Bennett is currently listed as an NFL free agent.