Former NFL player sentenced in North Carolina for mortgage fraud
Jimmy Hitchcock

A former NFL player was sentenced in North Carolina to almost four years in federal prison for being the ringleader of a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme, officials said on Wednesday.

Jimmy Hitchcock, 43, of Clemmons pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud, bank bribery, and money laundering conspiracy charges last June and was sentenced on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina said in a statement.

Hitchcock played for three teams, including the Carolina Panthers, during his eight-year career in the league.

Prosecutors said Hitchcock and five other defendants defrauded lenders of $4.5 million over 16 months using bogus checks and other fake documents.

In addition, prosecutors said Hitchcock bribed a bank employee to create more false documents to support the fraud. Hitchcock made $500,000 from the crime, prosecutors said.

Hitchcock was the fourth of the defendants to be sentenced. His 46-month prison term will be followed by two years of supervised release, the attorney's office said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Paul Tait)