Sonnen Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Charge

By Sherdog.com Staff Jan 3, 2011
Chael Sonnen file photo | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com



UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of money laundering stemming from his work as a real estate agent in 2006.

Sonnen, 33, entered the plea Monday before the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. His sentencing is scheduled for March 28 at 11:30 a.m, just days following an MMA Junkie-reported bout against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128. The government will recommend that Sonnen be sentenced to two years of probation, according to The Oregonian. The maximum sentence for money laundering is 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

According to the release, Sonnen “admitted that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud.”

Specifically, Sonnen allegedly arranged for a title company to pay $69,000 to a plumbing company for repairs to a Portland home that Sonnen was involved in the sale of. The release states that Sonnen knew that no repairs would be made to the home. Once the loan was funded, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the plumbing company was directed by Sonnen to pay $65,000 to the homebuyer as a cash incentive for purchasing the home.

In 2010, Sonnen ran for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives, winning the Republican primary in the state’s 37th District. However, Sonnen withdrew from the race in June, citing “a 2006 legal issue... that needs my immediate attention.”

Sonnen is currently serving a suspension handed down by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for abnormally high levels of testosterone prior to his UFC 117 loss to Anderson Silva. In early December, Sonnen went before the CSAC and had his suspension reduced to six months and a $2,500 fine. That suspension is set to end on March 2.

This item was updated at 11:58 p.m. ET to include information obtained by The Oregonian and MMA Junkie.
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