Panthers player imposter charged, police say

The real Travelle Wharton (left) and the suspect, Christon Brewer (right)
The real Travelle Wharton (left) and the suspect, Christon Brewer (right)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man accused of impersonating a Carolina Panthers player and bilking people out of $25,000 has been caught, police said.

The suspect, who had pretended to be Travelle Wharton, turned himself in to Union County officers late Monday afternoon.

The Panthers say the man first started impersonating Wharton in mid December last year. He pulled the same stunt several times in the months that followed.

Earlier this year the team said the man cheated an Atlanta woman out of $5300 while she was in Charlotte. He promised her he would use his status as a Panther to help promote events during the CIAA basketball tournament, which is held in uptown Charlotte every year.

"He's duped a lot of people out of a lot of money," the real Wharton said. "I feel bad for those people, but he really doesn't care about [them]."

Christon Brewer, 24, who was taken into police custody in the case on Monday, was later transferred to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters.

Brewer, of Monroe, was charged with false pretense and was released on an $11,000 secured bond early Tuesday, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg jail website.

The Panthers say earlier this year the suspect appears to have stopped trying to impersonate Wharton, but this season he was at it again.

They say this isn't the first time this has happened -- last year someone went around pretending to be safety Charles Godfrey.

"Our players don't raise money that way," said Gene Brown, who is the Panthers head of security. "People just need to be very cautious when they get approached. And they can call us or me when that happens, and we'll help them with it."

The Panthers say they're not sure how much the impostor actually looks like Wharton. But they say when the Atlanta woman saw the real Wharton, she instantly knew it was not the man who'd been scamming her.

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