An ex-NFL player allegedly vandalized his own restaurant to make it look like a hate crime and burglary so he could collect insurance money, CNN reports.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Edawn Louis Coughman with insurance fraud, false report of a crime and concealing a license plate.
The 31-year-old former tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is accused of using a crowbar to stage the break-in at his Atlanta-area eatery. He also wrote “racially motivated words,” swastikas and “MAGA” in the building, according to the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Police went to Create & Bake Pizza and Coughman’s Creamery in response to a complaint that someone was damaging it. The caller said the suspect was driving a black vehicle without a license plate.
Business Owner Stages Racially-Motivated BurglaryA local business owner is accused of staging a racially-motivated…
Officers stopped the driver of a vehicle matching that description, and that person was Coughman. Officers saw “several televisions in the bed of the truck and inside the cab,” some of which were “still attached to the brackets with damaged drywall,” the police department said in a news release.
Authorities also found a crowbar, spray paint and missing appliances in the truck.
Coughman was released Thursday on bond. He told police that he had become aware of the damage earlier in the day and notified his insurance company, but he had not called 911.
Jackie Patterson, Coughman’s attorney, said the public should not judge without “knowing all the facts.”
“Coughman is presumed innocent like anyone else who is accused of a crime,” Patterson said.
The case is reminiscent of the charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of masterminding a staged attack in which two people were allegedly paid to jump him in Chicago and yell “This is MAGA country!”
Coughman also played for the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins and the Arizona Cardinals.
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[Feature Photo: Edawn Louis Coughman/Gwinnett County Police Department]