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Police suspect two immigrants slain at New York condo of Saints' Vilma

NEW YORK -- Police on Tuesday were investigating whether two African immigrants were shot in the head at a Long Island condo owned by an NFL player in retaliation for a fake money scam.

The bodies of Sekou Sakor and Ansu Keita turned up in New York City last week around the time neighbors reported gunfire at a vacant condominium in Woodbury, N.Y., owned by Jonathan Vilma. There were no arrests.

Nassau County police went to the home last Friday before contacting the New York Police Department. Nassau County spokesman Sgt. Anthony Repalone declined further comment.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the investigation "emanated from reports of shots fired" late last week inside Vilma's vacant condo, where police discovered blood. The New Orleans Saints linebacker and former New York Jets player was not there at the time, and "there's no indication that he was involved," Kelly said.

Police were seeking to question a relative of Vilma who had access to the condominium, located in a luxury gated development about 13 miles from the Jets' former training camp at Hofstra University.

A lawyer for Vilma said his client "was as shocked as anyone" by news of the killings.

"Of course, he has absolutely nothing to do with this crime and will do everything possible to help the police solve it," said attorney Michael Tein.

Vilma moved out of the home, which is up for sale, in November 2007, the lawyer said.

Police officials said investigators believe the victims may have been mixed up in a so-called "black money" scheme. Victims are sent e-mails saying that they could receive $100 bills smuggled from overseas -- stained black to avoid detection -- if they purchase a special chemical to wash it off; what they end up getting is a pile of worthless paper.

It was unclear how Sakor, 31, and Keita, 32, both originally from Liberia, may have ended up at Vilma's home. Sakor's body was found Friday dumped in Queens; Keita's body was found in Brooklyn.

Kelly said investigators were testing the blood from the Long Island home to see if it was from the victims, and had found evidence of the possible money scam at the Bronx apartment the victims shared.

Vilma, who played college football at Miami (Fla.), joined the Saints last season after four years with the Jets. He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2004.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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