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Former NFL kicker Erxleben sentenced to 7-1/2 years for fraud

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Former NFL kicker Russell Erxleben was sentenced on Monday to 7-1/2 years in prison for running a fraudulent investment scheme that took in about $2 million trading in post-World War One German government bonds and a painting.

The sentence, handed out in a federal court in Austin, came from a plea deal negotiated by U.S. prosecutors and the defense, said David Gonzalez, an attorney for Erxleben.

The 57-year-old former stand-out kicker with the University of Texas also sought money from investors to purchase a financial interest in a painting supposedly by French artist Paul Gauguin, according to the document submitted by U.S. prosecutors and signed by Erxleben.

"Mr. Erxleben came to court today with nothing to show for his life except for memories of glory days, and his wife and kids who will love him unconditionally," Gonzalez said in an interview.

Erxleben has been in federal prison before. He pleaded guilty in 1999 to running a fraudulent investment scheme that bilked investors out of more than $30 million and was sentenced to seven years behind bars.

Erxleben, who shares the NCAA record for the longest field goal off a tee of 67 yards, was the first round draft pick for the New Orleans Saints in 1979, playing six season in the NFL, mostly as a punter.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Osterman)

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