NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - One of the eight former Rutgers University football players facing charges from a credit card fraud scheme was released from jail today without bail after a brief court hearing in which the defendant appeared via a video connection from the county jail.
Brendan Devera, 18, stood before the camera in the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center wearing jail-issued orange shirt and pants as he appeared before Judge Michael Dowgin in Superior Court in New Brunswick for a first appearance.
Devera, of Totowa, is charged with second-degree promoting organized street crime, third-degree money laundering and third-degree theft by deception.
Authorities say Devera and the other defendants were involved in a scheme in which they obtained other people's credit card numbers and used that information to transfer funds to various RU Express Accounts for personal use, the prosecutor said.
RU Express is the official university debit account that allows students, faculty and staff to use the Rutgers ID cards as debit cards at over 100 on-campus and off-campus locations, including restaurants, according to the Rutgers website.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, speaking after the court hearing, indicated that the credit card numbers were obtained over the internet and said the case is still being investigated to see if there were other thefts.
"We feel confident in saying that $11,000 was stolen (from victims), but this is still being investigated," Carey said, indicating the total theft amount could be larger.
He said credit card companies were quick to recognize the thefts, in part because the money was used for more than purchases at restaurants.
"Gift cards are a red flag," Carey said, adding that the student ID cards could be used at retail stores. Authorities say all of the crimes occurred between April 22 and May 3.
During the hearing, Devera said little more than "yes" in response to comments or question from Dowgin.
The judge said probation officers, in their preliminary assessment, recommended Devera be released without bond. Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley said he did not object to Devera's release. Devera's next court is Oct. 11. He was the only defendant being held in jail.
A former sophomore linebacker, Devera was dismissed from the team last month, as was a co-defendant K.J. Gray, who faces the same charges.
Gray, 21, of Union, is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 11.
Six other former players, Najiee Jones, 18, Erial, New Jersey; Edwin Lopez, 19, of Camden, Kwabena Marfo, 21, of Alexandria, Va; Christian Onyechi, 19, of West Orange, Syhiem Simmons, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Malik Vaccaro-Dixon, 21, of Port Charlotte, Fla., are also charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree theft by deception.
Jones and Onyechi have also been charged with fraudulent use of credit cards in the third degree.
Lopez, Marfo, Simmons and Vaccaro-Dizon are also charged third-degree money laundering and third-degree fraudulent use of credit cards. Each of them is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 13.