(Reuters) - The son and daughter-in-law of the first African-American golfer on the PGA Tour were charged with improperly spending more than $1 million belonging to the late legendary Charles Sifford Sr, officials said on Tuesday.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted Sifford’s son, Craig Sifford, 48, and daughter-in-law, Sandra Sifford, 48, both of Brecksville, Ohio, with spending money meant for Charles Sifford’s care on such items as travel, dining, clothes, jewelry and landscaping between 2010 and 2013, according to a statement released by the Ohio attorney general’s office and the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s offense did not comment on whether or how Charles Sifford’s care was affected by the theft the family members were charged with.
Sifford, who died in February in Cleveland at the age of 92, was the first African-American to compete in PGA-sanctioned events in 1961. He was often compared to Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier.
Tiger Woods has often credited Sifford for paving the way for Woods’ own golfing path, and affectionately called him ‘grandpa.’ Sifford was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this past November.
An investigation was launched prior to Sifford’s Feb. 3 death after a complaint was made to law enforcement alleging Craig Sifford was abusing his role as his father’s power of attorney, officials said in a statement.
After examining volumes of financial accounts, agents with the Ohio attorney general’s office found that the couple, who are now divorced, misspent more than $1 million belonging to the golfer, officials said.
Both Craig Sifford and Sandra Sifford were indicted on three counts of theft, one count of money laundering and one count of unauthorized use of property, officials said.
Sandra Sifford also was charged with receiving stolen property, officials said.
“Charles Sifford, who is credited for courageously breaking the professional golf color barrier, served as an inspiration to so many people and tragically ended up being financially exploited by members of his family,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in the statement.
An attorney for Craig and Sandra Sifford could not be reached to comment.
Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Sandra Maler