Former NBA player Tate George was sentenced to 9 years in prison for organizing a Ponzi scheme for more than $2 million, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office told PEOPLE.
George, 47, of Newark, a first round draft pick of the New Jersey Nets who also played for the Milwaukee Bucks, was convicted in 2013 on four counts of wire fraud.
George presented himself as CEO of The George Group claiming to have more than $500 million in assets, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney.
He pitched prospective investors – including NBA players and celebrities – and told them their money would be used to to fund real estate development projects. But according to the statement, George “used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme fashion.”
The statement added that George “used the money for home improvement projects, meals at restaurants, clothing and gas. In reality, The George Group had virtually no income generating operations.”
George was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s statement said.
George attended the University of Connecticut, where he hit the game-winning shot against Clemson University in the third round of the 1990 National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. With one second remaining and Connecticut trailing by one, George caught a full-court pass from teammate Scott Burrell, spun around and hit a 15-foot jump shot as time expired.
He was selected by the Nets with the No. 22 pick in the 1990 NBA draft. George played 4 seasons in the NBA, three of them with New Jersey Nets. He averaged career high 6.0 ppg for the team in 1991-92 season.
In total, George played in 177 NBA games, started in 14 of them. He holds career averages of 4.2 ppg in 11.4 mpg.
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