Fallen NFL star Ingram has dementia, seeks prison break

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

Retired NFL wide receiver Mark Ingram Sr. is suffering from dementia and should be released from a 21-month federal prison sentence during the coronavirus outbreak, his lawyer said.

Ingram, 54, whose son and namesake is a running back with the Baltimore Ravens, filed a request March 30 to leave Milan's prison. He is serving a sentence for violating supervised release stemming from a conviction for bank fraud and laundering drug money.

In this March 19, 2001 file photo, former NFL football player Mark Ingram is shown in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  Ingram, a star on the 1991 Super Bowl championship team, is suffering from dementia and should be released from a 21-month federal prison sentence during the coronavirus outbreak, according to his lawyer.

The Flint native and Michigan State University star who won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants during 10 seasons in the NFL is the latest among a growing list of high-profile inmates seeking release during a virus outbreak that has killed at least eight federal inmates. His request comes as Attorney General Bill Barr has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to determine which at-risk inmates should be released on home confinement.

Prosecutors, however, are fighting Ingram's release.

They cited Ingram’s long criminal record as a reason to keep him behind bars and said his “alleged dementia” does not leave him more susceptible to COVID-19.

“Ingram might be granted home confinement under the new legislation and Attorney General’s directive,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Blaine Longsworth wrote. "Then again, he might not. But either way, he should not be permitted to push his way in the queue past other inmates who are less dangerous and more vulnerable than he is.”

The legal fight is the latest development in Ingram's long criminal record that dates to 1985.

He was convicted of bank fraud and laundering drug money in 2008, sentenced to 92 months in prison and ordered to serve five years' supervised release.

He repeatedly violated supervised release and, in February 2019, a federal judge determined Ingram had possessed a firearm and marijuana and was involved in a marijuana grow operation and failed to pay restitution.

He was sentenced to 21 months and reported to the federal prison in September.

Ingram has several health problems that leave him susceptible to COVID-19, including asthma and hypertension, his lawyer, David Jones, wrote in a court filing. He also has been diagnosed with dementia and likely has Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — though the disease can only be determined following an autopsy.

His health problems include memory loss that worsened last year, his neurologist wrote.

"He may drive, but his wife does not let him...," neurologist Dr. Alan Lerner wrote. "(Ingram) cannot recall where he is supposed to go."

Lerner conducted an examination as part of Ingram's involvement in a concussion lawsuit former players filed against the NFL.

"He can dress himself," Lerner wrote, but needs "to be reminded to shower and brush his teeth. Can't be left by himself or under supervision except by his wife or close friends. Gets very angry easily; can be set off by anything. Complains of headaches..."

During the exam, Ingram started crying "when discussing his personal care and functional abilities, the doctor wrote.

"(Ingram) is at risk for possibly fatal outcomes that could be better treated if he is granted home confinement," his lawyer wrote in a request to U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg. 

"This court should consider the total harm and benefits to prisoner and society that continued imprisonment will yield, relative to the heightened health risks posed to Mr. Ingram during this rapidly encroaching pandemic."


Twitter: @robertsnellnews