But there's a fascinating--and perhaps horrifying--story deeper in the massive criminal case unfolding in San Francisco.
It's the tale of a young man named Marlon Sullivan. On the one hand, there's the Marlon Sullivan who became one of the youngest licensed contract advisers for NFL players (at the age of 24), who speaks warmly of his upbringing in San Francisco's Western Addition, whose Twitter profile describes him as "Sports Agent, Entrepreneur, All around great human being! Putting the Personal back into Personal Service..."
|Marlon Sullivan, from @msully_84 Twitter profile|
That Marlon Sullivan poses with one of his preschool-aged sons and gives interviews in which he praises his girlfriend for helping him "maximize his full potential".
He's the Marlon Sullivan who says he taught himself computer programming as a teenager and wound up with a master's degree in sports management from USF.
But, according to the lengthy affidavit filed by the US Attorney's office, there's a very different Marlon Sullivan occupying the same man's body and mind.
This is the one accused of dealing drugs, illegally selling firearms, and offering to commit a murder for hire.
FBI agents say Sullivan was right in the middle of a number of illegal activities in this case. They say he cranked out counterfeit credit cards (using software bought from Russian criminals with Bitcoin virtual currency), ran major amounts of illicit pot from California to other parts of the country, and readily agreed to a murder-for-hire plot proposed by an undercover agent.
This Marlon Sullivan, according to the federal affidavit, told undercover agents he'd have no trouble pulling off a "hit", saying "I got a hundred niggas, I still got my ties to the street. I got young boys who love me."
Presumably, he wasn't talking about his own boys, who he identified to an interviewer last year as Armani and Tristan. But the same Marlon Sullivan who briefly advised out-of-the-closet football star Michael Sam earlier this year and has a role in the career of up-and-coming San Francisco boxer Karim Mayfield seems to have a much darker side.
How could a young man who appears to be on the up-and-up, whose future seems bright, be living such a shockingly dual existence? The federal affidavit quotes Sullivan as saying he didn't worry about prison time because he had a clean criminal record, bragging "Ten is the max I'll get."
But the telling comments may be these. Quoting from the affidavit, Sullivan told a federal undercover agent, "living a criminal lifestyle was more of a 'power and challenge thing', that Sullivan didn't have to manufacture fraudulent credit cards, but it was fun.'"
|from @msully_84 Twitter feed|
As I write, Sullivan's whereabouts are unknown. He did not appear at the hearing where more than 20 of the defendants were arraigned. Mayfield, who is preparing for a light-welterweight title bout in Atlantic City on Saturday night, told SFWeekly he hadn't heard from Sullivan (with whom he had been planning to sign a management contract) and "is appalled at these charges."
There's clearly much more to Marlon Sullivan than many people knew, and if the FBI and US Attorney are right, none of it is good.