Fake Steeler gets 90-day jail term

Tuman impersonator also given probation

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A Brentwood man was sentenced yesterday to 90 days in jail and five years on probation for impersonating Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman and convincing a woman to loan him $3,200.

Brian Jackson, 33, pleaded guilty in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to one count of theft by deception and one count of identity theft. He was ordered to report to jail by Aug. 24.

Neither Jackson nor his attorney, James Sheets, commented as they left the courtroom yesterday morning. Sheets had asked Judge Gerard Bigley for probation for Jackson, saying he had acknowledged his guilt and made restitution to the victim.

As he stood in front of Bigley with his attorney at his side, Jackson expressed remorse and said he was sorry for the trouble he caused everyone involved.

"My actions have caused a mess," he said.

The woman told authorities a mutual friend introduced her to the man who said he was Tuman, and Jackson then convinced her to loan him the money over the course of a couple months in early 2006. Jackson was arrested after the woman sent a letter to Tuman through Steelers headquarters, asking for the money back, and Tuman turned the letter over to the head of Steelers security.

According to the affidavit, the head of security directed the woman to a news article on the Internet detailing Jackson's past run-ins with the law. She then identified Jackson as the man who had told her he was Tuman.

Tuman said yesterday at Steelers training camp that receiving the letter was "a little disturbing, but other than that it really didn't affect me. It was taken care of."

"One of his relatives came up to me this summer and apologized for everything, which was nice. I think it was a bigger deal in the papers than it was in my personal life," Tuman said.

"I don't know the guy. Obviously, he's searching for something he doesn't have. I hope he does better and chooses a different path."

Assistant District Attorney Debra Barnisin-Lange asked Bigley to consider Jackson's recent criminal history before handing down his sentence, saying Jackson also pretended in the past to be Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Brian St. Pierre.

In 2005, Jackson was charged with impersonating Roethlisberger and his backup, St. Pierre, to meet and date women. He was ordered to undergo counseling and sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.

In this type of case, Barnisin-Lange said, the standard range for punishment calls for anywhere from three to 14 months in jail.

"The commonwealth's position is [that] it should have been a standard-range sentence, even though he paid the full restitution back of $3,200," she said. "It wasn't a loan. It was a crime."

The affidavit said Jackson met the victim in March 2006. He explained in late March that he misplaced his wallet and needed to borrow $200 from the victim.

The affidavit also states that in early April 2006, Jackson, pretending he was Tuman, asked the woman for $1,800 and said his ex-wife or girlfriend was going after him for child support and had all of his bank accounts frozen.

The victim cashed a check for that amount and gave him the money, which was not returned.

Barnisin-Lange said she expects Sheets to file a motion asking the judge to reconsider the sentence.

Tuman said it's not the first time that he has heard that someone impersonated him.

"It happened a couple of times before ... . Those were incidents that weren't so bad; they put my name in a bad light in a couple of places, and I had to go talk to the people. Other than that, they really didn't bother me."

Pam Panchak, Post-Gazette
Brian R. Jackson, charged with impersonating Jerame Tuman and Ben Roethlisberger, leaves the courtroom yesterday.
Click photo for larger image.

Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette contributed to this report.


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