John Paul Funes—who pleaded guilty today to stealing more than $550,000 from the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation—sent approximately $180,000 of that money to the father of Vadal Alexander, the former LSU offensive guard who played for the Tigers from 2012-2015 and was a student-athlete at the time of the payments.
Four sources have confirmed for Daily Report that Alexander’s father, James Alexander, was the recipient of the $180,000, who is referenced in the court documents only as “Individual C.”
James Alexander is a self-employed entrepreneur who lives in the Atlanta area, according to his LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Multiple attempts to reach him and Vadal Alexander, who went on to play in the NFL, most recently for the Oakland Raiders, were unsuccessful.
The Alexanders are not the only LSU-connected family to have received payments from Funes, who pleaded guilty after a 35-minute hearing this morning to one count of money laundering and one count of wire fraud in the six-year embezzlement scheme.
Daily Report previously reported the mother and sister of former Tigers quarterback Rohan Davey also received money from Funes—some $107,000 that Funes had said was intended to help cover medical costs for a Children’s Hospital patient.
A key distinction, however, is that Davey was not a student-athlete at the time of Funes’ payments to his family members, who later returned more than half of it to Funes at his request. Alexander was a player for the Tigers during the period when his father received the payments, exposing LSU to potential NCAA rules violations.
In a statement, LSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Munson says only that, “LSU was made aware of specific allegations by OLOL officials in late 2018 and made that information immediately available to the NCAA. As this is an ongoing inquiry, LSU will have no further comment.”
The NCAA did not respond to a request seeking comment.
Former LSU coach Les Miles, who led the Tigers during Alexander’s college career, says he is stunned to hear of the payments.
“I didn’t know about it and wouldn’t have expected that in any way,” says Miles, now the head football coach at the University of Kansas.
It is unclear whether those who received money from Funes will be targeted by the feds, now that the investigation into Funes is essentially done. But sources familiar with the case say that is not likely and court documents continue to stress—as has OLOL, which first announced the embezzlement scheme last November—that Funes acted alone.
Funes will not be sentenced in the case for at least several weeks and possibly several months. U.S. District Judge John DeGravelles will await the results of a pre-sentencing investigation by the probation office before determining Funes’ sentence. According to charges read today in open court, Funes could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts against him.
However, legal experts say he will likely serve far less time and could do as little as three years or less behind bars.
Funes will also be ordered to pay restitution, though the exact amount has not been determined yet. Though the government charged him with stealing $550,000, OLOL has said the actual amount was more than $800,000. It will be up to DeGravelles to ultimately determine how much Funes has to repay. As part of the plea agreement, any money recovered prior to sentencing will be counted against the restitution.