Former footballer Efe Sodje and two of his brothers have been imprisoned for tearing tens of thousands of pounds from a charity for poor African children.
Efe, 46, footballer Stephen Sodje, 43, and ex-rugby player Bright Sodje, 52, were convicted by a judge for bringing “shame on their family” when they were collecting their own fundraiser, Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF).
Brothers’ convictions in 2017 can now only be reported at the conclusion of a separate money laundering incident with former Nigeria defense attorney Sam Sodje (39), who has been cleared.
Efe – a journeyman with Crewe, Huddersfield and Bury – and his two brothers founded the charity in 2009 to provide sports opportunities for young people in Nigeria. However, it is believed that the brothers have milked much of the money collected from black tie donations. Auctions, charity football games and clay pigeon shooting.
Ashley Carson, a businessman and director of the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, and one of the city’s city officials, Clive Betts, were hired to pay tribute to the charity. However, when they asked for bank statements and financial reports, they were suspended.
After the couple resigned as trustees and directors in 2013, “the amount of money transferred to the Sodje family rose dramatically,” prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told the Old Bailey.
The SSF hosted a charity football match on the Sheffield Wednesday site in 2009 and organized a charity dinner at the Charlton Football Club in September 2010.
In 2011, the Lowry Hotel in Manchester held a gala dinner for the SSF and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – a charity backed by English women’s football coach Phil Neville.
Efe distributed Easter eggs provided by the hospital to cancer patients, while five Sodje brothers attended a dinner party. The event brought in nearly £ 11,500, but Mr. Christopher said, “No dime went to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.”
Judge Michael Topolski, QC, told the defendants, “They have shamed themselves and their families.”
Stephen von Bexley was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. The judge said he had repeatedly lied to the jury and was a “selfish and arrogant man with a strong sense of self-claim.
” Efe, Efe’s father, “the face” of the charity, received 18 months in prison after receiving around £ 7,500 plus an unknown amount of cash from the Clay Pigeon Shoot. Bright from Sale, Greater Manchester, has been detained for 21 months for “milking the charity”.