DALLAS, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Eugene Lockhart told a judge he "stepped out of character" before he was sentenced to prison Wednesday for mortgage fraud.
The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis, 54 months or 4 1/2 years, was close to the five years requested by a federal prosecutor, the Dallas Morning News reported. Lockhart's lawyer, Jay Etherington, asked the judge to allow him to remain under home confinement for an additional two years.
Lockhart, 51, pleaded guilty in 2011 under an agreement that allowed a sentence of up to 10 years. A total of 10 people have been convicted.
The mortgage fraud involved using straw buyers to get inflated mortgages. Those involved set up companies that traded on the Cowboys name, including Cowboy Realty and America's Team Mortgage.
Lockhart apologized Wednesday for his role.
"I wasn't brought up to do anything like that," he said. "I stepped out of character."
Etherington argued for a lenient sentence, saying that Lockhart, known as "Mean Gene, the hitting machine," when he played for the Cowboys, had suffered serious brain damage during his football career. He said Boston University has already asked Lockhart to donate his brain because of his history of concussions.
Lockhart has already been on home confinement for 11 months.
Etherington said after the hearing that Lockhart may have received a long sentence because he is a "trophy."