Chris "Birdman" Andersen cleared after being victimized in twisted double-Catfish scheme
This past May, as ex-Denver Nugget Chris "Birdman" Andersen was taking part in the NBA playoffs with his current team, the Miami Heat, a Douglas County Sheriff's rep told us an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation into his actions was still ongoing after more than a year; see our previous coverage below. Today, however, all that's over. Andersen attorneys long claimed he was a victim, and it now appears to be the case: A Canadian woman is under arrest for a twisted online impersonation scheme that reportedly targeted Birdman.
Big photos below.
On May 10, 2012, the Dougco sheriff's office put out a press release confirming that its Internet Crimes Against Children unit had "executed a search warrant at Christopher C. Andersen (33 YO) residence in Larkspur CO." The narrative noted that the ICAC "began investigating Andersen in February 2012 in reference to information that was provided by a law enforcement agency in California," adding, "DCSO has recovered property from the residence that we believe is connected to this case."
Afterward, as we've reported, attorney Colin Bresee asserted Andersen's innocence of any crime and claimed he was actually the person who'd been wronged. Beginning in 2010, Bresee said Andersen had received numerous letters, some featuring racy photos, from a female fan claiming to be 21 years old. The following year, she flew to Colorado, "showing her required identification," according to a statement he provided to the Denver Post. When she left, she allegedly was upset by Andersen's lack of interest in her, and by 2012, "she threatened to retaliate if he did not provide financial remuneration" -- bounty represented by someone claiming to be her mother as items on her Amazon and Victoria's Secret wish lists plus $5,000 in cash.
An aerial shot of Andersen's home in Larkspur, as seen in a 9News image.
Despite these assertions, the investigation ground on, with local authorities declining to either exonerate Andersen or charge him with a crime -- likely because the story that emerged was so strange. The Miami New Times, our sister publication, succinctly describes it as a "bizarre double-Catfish Internet scheme."
Credit for the heavy lifting on the story goes to the Denver Post, to whom current Andersen attorney Mark Bryant spilled the beans. According to the paper, Bryant said "Andersen was being impersonated online by a woman in Canada. The woman, posing as Andersen, sought relationships and gifts but also threatened at least one person," and "was also posing online as other people to Andersen."
The Post identifies the woman thought to be at the heart of the matter as Shelly Lynn Chartier, a 29-year-old resident of tiny Easterville, Manitoba. She was arrested and charged in January with transmitting child pornography, extortion and making threats -- and while Canadian authorities haven't confirmed that some of these offenses involve Andersen, they acknowledge that the Dougco sheriff played a role in the investigation. Chartier is expected to make a court appearance in October.
Exactly what went on is confusing even in Bryant's telling. Here's an excerpt from the Post's coverage:
Another look at Andersen's place in Larkspur, courtesy of KDVR.
Though Andersen and the woman from California met once in person, Bryant said it turns out they never actually communicated directly with each other online, aside from an initial contact. Instead, all the communication unknowingly flowed through the woman in Canada -- posing as Andersen to the California woman and as the California woman to Andersen. Sometimes the woman would simply pass along messages, Bryant said. At other times, she would fabricate messages, he said.In a quote to ESPN, Bryant likens the result to the case of Manti Te'o, a Notre Dame standout now with the San Diego Chargers who became popular culture's most famous catfishing victim earlier this year. "It turned out that it was a Manti Te'o situation," Bryant maintained. "It was Manti Te'o on steroids."
At this point, Andersen hasn't personally made any comments about the situation, or a statement by the Douglas County District Attorney's Office that no prosecution of Andersen is anticipated, thereby effectively clearing him. But there's no question it had a tremendously negative impact on him, at least in the short run, taking place shortly before his ignominious exit from Denver. True, he landed on his feet, winning a spot on the Heat roster and earning himself an NBA championship ring in the process. But his reputation definitely took a hit -- one from which it should now rebound once and for all.
Continue for our previous coverage of the allegations leveled against former Denver Nugget Chris "Birdman" Andersen, including photos.