Ex-NFL star Plaxico Burress accused of failing to pay taxes

FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, file photograph, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress (80) stands on the sidelines during an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants in Pittsburgh. Burress has been indicted on charges he failed to pay taxes, New Jersey prosecutors announced Thursday, April 30, 2015. The 37-year-old former wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and New York Jets was charged a week earlier with willful failure to pay a state tax and issuing a bad check or electronic funds transfer. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Former NFL star Plaxico Burress has been indicted on charges he failed to pay taxes, New Jersey prosecutors announced Thursday.

The 37-year-old former wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and New York Jets was charged last week with willful failure to pay a state tax and issuing a bad check or electronic funds transfer.

Burress is the first person in the state to be charged under a law adopted and signed last year that makes issuing a bad electronic funds transfer a criminal offense just like passing a bad check.

Each offense could carry up to a five-year prison term if he is convicted.

Burress, who lives in Totowa, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. It was also not clear if a lawyer is representing him.

In a news release from the Mercer County prosecutor’s office, authorities said Burress filed his state income tax return for 2013 on Oct. 20, 2014, showing he owed nearly $48,000, the amount that would be due for someone with a taxable income of about $550,000.

Prosecutors said he submitted an electronic funds transfer, but it failed.

Officials said the state Division of Taxation notified him of the problem in multiple letters, one of which was sent certified and returned unclaimed, but officials never heard back from him. Authorities also said they notified Burress’ tax preparer.

They say he also didn’t pay up after a criminal complaint was filed in February.

Burress has had previous brushes with the law. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to violating a New York weapons law after he accidentally shot himself in the thigh. He spent 20 months in prison.

He also has a history of being sued over unpaid bills, many of them relatively small for someone who earned millions of dollars in his career. The Associated Press found in 2009 that he had been sued an average of once a year since 2000 over debts, damages to cars and tax nonpayment.

In some of the cases, home inspectors, car dealers and others said they took him to court reluctantly after he failed to respond to calls and letters requesting payments he owed. In one case, when he finally did pay up, the check bounced.

The wide receiver, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl, returned to the NFL after his release from prison but has not played since 2012.

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