An owner of an Atlanta-based company scammed five teams in the Columbus Youth Football League out of more than $27,000 when he failed to fulfill their jersey orders, according to testimony Wednesday morning in Columbus Recorder’s Court.
Jermyn Wright, a 38-year-old Duluth, Ga. man who owns Great One Xtreme, pleaded not guilty to theft by taking. He was ordered held in the Muscogee County Jail under a $15,000 bond.
Judge Julius Hunter bound over the case to Superior Court.
Columbus Police Cpl. Bennie Jennings said he was called to the Investigative Services conference room in the Public Safety Building on Oct. 18 to speak with some individuals about a theft.
Darrell Bryant, the president of Columbus Youth Football, said Wright invited eight teams to Great One Xtreme to check out their items. Five of the teams decided to purchase a total of about 600 jerseys from the company, and the others decided to purchase from another company.
The teams who placed orders with the business between Aug. 19 and early September included the South Columbus Raiders, Eastway Cherokees, Edgewood Red Devils, Northeast Packers and Clubview Bulldogs. Some paid with cash and others paid through Paypal.
They expected to receive the uniforms before the season started on Sept. 17. They were forced to delay the season until Oct. 1, because the uniforms never arrived, Jennings testified.
Police said some of the teams eventually received practice uniforms from the company, but none of them received the jerseys they actually ordered.
Jennings called Wright on Oct. 26 and spoke with him about the incident. He said he sent the money to his manufacture in Pakistan, but that man never produced the uniforms.
“He said he thinks he got scammed out of his money,” Jennings testified. “I asked him to send me some of the texts and some of the messages that he had received showing that he sent money and what happened to the funds.”
Police viewed messages between Wright and a man in Pakistan dating back to Aug. 21 that indicated that Wright would actually not receive the orders. Bank records showed that money from at least one of the teams was deposited into Wright’s SunTrust bank account after Aug. 21, authorities said.
“That money was deposited into his account was used for other items other than just purchasing uniforms,” Jennings told the court. “It paid for rent and it had gone to other hotels in other cities.”
A warrant was issued for Wright, who was arrested at 12 a.m. Friday in Atlanta.
Attorney Rory Starkey, who represented Wright, said his client did not intend to steal from the football teams.
“He did what he could, and he’s still trying to make it right,” Starkey told the court.
Wright reiterated his attorney’s statement about making a genuine effort to give the teams something to wear for the game. He said they provided about 500 practice jerseys instead.
“I had no intentions of coming down here and trying to take money from Columbus,” Wright testified. “What I wanted to do was come down here and do good business.”
Starkey also described the case as a civil matter, not criminal.
“It’s a contract matter that should be resolved in civil court,” Starkey elaborated.
Attorney Katonga Wright, who represents Bryant, announced Friday in court that she filed a lawsuit months ago against the defendant in Gwinnett County, where the defendant resides. Starkey responded by stating that he’d accept service on behalf of his client.
“Either it’s restitution on the criminal end or civil judgment,” Katonga Wright said. “Unfortunately, it’s just really hard to collect on a civil judgment sometimes with the defendant doesn’t have anything. But on a criminal side, we’ll make sure that a probation officer is collecting that money.”