CLEMSON — Defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko was dismissed Tuesday from the Clemson football team after being charged Monday with financial transaction card fraud.
Ogundeko, 19, and an unidentified female were arrested and found with 29 gift cards in their vehicle with the intent to place money on a debit card, according to a Clemson Police Department incident report.
“Ebenezer Ogundeko has been dismissed from the Clemson football team for a violation of team rules and behavior detrimental to our football team,” head coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. “We wish him well.”
Fox Carolina reported that Ogundeko was released from jail after posting $5,000 bail.
The incident stemmed from an early Monday morning call by a 7-Eleven clerk in Clemson, who said an unidentified 19-year-old female attempted to buy $25 Visa gift cards with multiple transactions and left the convenience store upon being asked to provide identification.
Police followed the woman up the road to a Wal-Mart neighborhood market, where she was waiting in her vehicle for Ogundeko, who was inside. Ogundeko returned to the car saying he was picking up a couple of gift cards for the woman’s friend.
A search of the vehicle found 28 other gift cards besides the one just bought at the 7-Eleven. Ogundeko told the reporting officer “he had done this before but it was a long time ago” and that the female promised she could put money on his debit card, also stating “that he needed money bad so he didn’t ask any questions.”
The officers took Ogundeko’s Bank of America card, and discovered the last four numbers on the card did not match the last four numbers on the receipt used for the purchase.
Police took the gift cards and Bank of America card in for evidence. The female also was arrested on a simple charge of marijuana possession.
Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon said the investigation is ongoing, and there are no other football players thought to be suspects.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Seneca Journal, Ogundeko altered the magnetic strip and confessed after being caught on camera at the Wal-Mart buying the gift cards.
The S.C. Judicial Department stipulates under the Financial Transaction Card Crime Act that fraud includes “obtaining money, goods or services with an FTC which is known to be illegally made, altered or obtained using an FTC to deposit, by means of an automated banking device, any forged, altered or otherwise improper check, draft or money order, receiving money, goods, or services.”
If the value of stolen assets does not exceed $500 in a six-month period, the crime is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a fine of less than $1,000 and/or jail time not more than a year. If the value does exceed $500 in a six-month period, it’s considered a felony with potential fines between $3,000 and $5,000 and/or jail time up to five years.
Ogundeko tweeted Tuesday, “The media twist so much up. I just would like to apologize to Clemson University for bringing bad publicity and for letting everyone down.”
Entering his redshirt sophomore year, Ogundeko would have competed for reps at defensive end after logging just 16 snaps last year on defense. The Brooklyn native made five tackles (two on special teams) in the 2014 season.
Ogundeko is the program’s first player dismissed for violation of team rules since wide receiver Kyrin Priester was booted in the second week of the previous football season. Former quarterback Chad Kelly, now at Ole Miss, was let go in April 2014.
His dismissal leaves the defensive ends corps to Shaq Lawson, Kevin Dodd, Martin Aiken, Dane Rogers, Chris Register and Richard Yeargin among others.