NFL’s Uwazurike and ISU Wrestler Face 7 Years in Prison as Iowa Files Class D Felony Charges

  • Felony charges push total potential jail time up to 7 years max
  • Pair allegedly used the IDs of others to open betting accounts
  • Both athletes with face separate jury trials on October 24
  • Uwazurike’s lawyers claim actions “are not criminal acts” in Iowa
Iowa State flag
The pressure is rising for Denver Broncos’ Eyioma Uwazurike and an Iowa State wrestler after the state filed new charges that carry maximum five years prison. [Image:]

Potential jail time rises

A current Iowa State wrestler and an ISU alum, suspended Denver Broncos’ defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike, are facing a potential maximum total of seven years in prison after the state filed Class D felony charges against the pair in Iowa District Court.

Iowa’s Class D felony charges carry with them maximum penalties of five years in prison and a fine of $7,500. In addition, the pair have an earlier charge of tampering with records against them, which carries up to two years prison.

state has hit Uwazurike and wrester Paniro Johnson with the most serious counts yet

The charges, which the Des Moines Register reported were filed last week, means the state has hit Uwazurike and wrestler Paniro Johnson with the most serious counts yet, since the Iowa Division of Criminal Justice launched an investigation into gambling at state colleges in May.

Betting ruse backfires

According to court documents filed in Story County, the recently filed identity theft charges allege Uwazurike and Johnson illegally used someone else’s identifying information “for their benefit in an amount exceeding $1,500.” The documents, states the Register, illustrate how both athletes allegedly engaged with another person to create accounts with sports betting sites and proceeded to place bets from those accounts.

Iowa charges Uwazurike with placing over 800 bets totaling over $21,000, which includes bets on two Iowa State games. The allegedly more prolific Johnson placed nearly 1,300 bets totaling over $45,000. Johnson is in his second season on the Iowa State wrestling team and is listed on the 2023-2024 active roster. The NFL, meanwhile, has suspended Uwazurike, who remains on the Broncos’ reserved list albeit with a suspension.

16 former and current Iowa State individuals charged with illegal betting

Uwazurike and Johnson are among 16 former and current Iowa State individuals charged with illegal betting and altering records to cover their tracks. Last month, Iowa State defensive lineman Isiah Lee departed the Cyclones program after the state also hit him with charges related to betting via another person’s identity. In addition to the charges Iowa state has filed, Uwazurike, Johnson, Lee and others like quarterback Hunter Dekker may also face a permanent ban from the NCAA.

Pleas of not guilty

The two athletes have pleaded not guilty to both charges and will face separate jury trials at the same time on October 24 in Story County District Court. According to court documents, Uwazurike, who was a defensive lineman for Iowa State from 2016 to 2021 before the Broncos came calling, has asked the court to dismiss the charges against him.

 argue that their client’s actions “are not criminal acts”

Attorneys for the football player labeled the charges against their client as “a smear campaign to justify a suspect investigation.” Uwazurike’s lawyers also argue that their client’s actions “are not criminal acts” in Iowa and that using someone else’s betting account “with their permission” is not a crime.

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