Chael Sonnen Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

Chael Sonnen, the UFC middleweight currently serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, has pleaded guilty to money laundering related to mortgage fraud.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Oregon, Sonnen pleaded guilty Monday and will be sentenced on March 28. Sonnen could face up to 20 years in prison, but he is expected to cooperate as a witness against others involved in the mortgage fraud investigation, and so his sentence is likely to be considerably lighter.

Michelle Holman Kerin, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case, told the Oregonian that Sonnen agreed to give up his Realtor's license and pay a $10,000 fine. The government is recommending Sonnen be sentenced to two years of probation.

"This office will continue to aggressively prosecute real estate professionals who committed the mortgage fraud that contributed to this country's economic downturn and wreaked havoc on our community's housing market," US Attorney Dwight Holton said in a statement. "We entrusted these professionals to honestly broker real estate transactions and instead, they defrauded lending institutions throughout the country and left financial ruin in their wake."

Sonnen has admitted that he submitted a false letter and sales agreement addendum involving payment to a plumbing company for repairs to a home that Sonnen knew were not actually going to be made.

A former Republican candidate for the state legislature, Sonnen dropped out of his race last year, citing a "legal issue." He also made cryptic references to problems with the federal government after he had his performance-enhancing drug suspension reduced from 12 months to six months.

After Sonnen's thrilling performance in a loss to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in August, he was promised a rematch against Silva. But that rematch was put on hold when his drug test came back positive, and now Sonnen has another legal issue that could derail his career. There's no word yet on when (or if) the UFC plans to put Sonnen back into the Octagon.

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