ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams has a new home, and at least 53 new fans.
By closing on a $2 million deal to purchase a mansion in suburban Buffalo, the Bills' high-priced free-agent addition is also helping a group of creditors recoup a portion of the $3.1 million they were cheated out of by the home's former owner.
"It was a windfall," said William F. Savino. He's a Buffalo-based attorney representing 53 people who had their money taken by former personal injury lawyer Kenneth Bernas, who was convicted in 2010 of larceny and identity theft.
Bernas, who has been disbarred and is serving a 2 1/3- to seven-year jail sentence, used some of the money he stole to build the five-bedroom, 9,000-plus square-foot, four-car garage home in 2005. He's been ordered to repay $1.8 million.
Savino said his clients will get close to $500,000 from Williams' purchase, with the rest of the money going toward the mortgage and other fees.
The Buffalo News first reported Williams' purchase earlier this week.
Williams targeted buying the mansion shortly after signing a six-year contract potentially worth $100 million with the Bills in free agency in March. He's one of the NFL's premier pass-rushing specialists, and spent his first six seasons with the Houston Texans, who selected Williams with the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft.
It's unclear whether Williams was familiar with home's former owner's legal troubles, but he was aware that he was purchasing the home out of receivership. Williams wasn't available for comment on his new home, but had said earlier this week that he was in the process of completing a purchase and planning to move in before the start of training camp, which opens at the end of next month.