Former NBA player Tate George convicted on running $2 million Ponzi scheme


tate-george-trialTate George, a former player for the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, was convicted on charges of running a $2 million Ponzi scheme that targeted ex-professional athletes, according to a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, Bloomberg reported.

Jurors convicted George on Sept. 30 of all four wire-fraud counts after a trial that began Sept. 9 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, according to Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for Fishman. George testified in his own defense at a trial that included testimony by Charlie Villanueva of the Detroit Pistons.

George, 45, was immediately taken into custody until his sentencing on Jan. 16 by U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper, according to Reilly. He faces as long as 20 years in prison on each count. His lawyer, David Schafer of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

George raised more than $2 million for his company, the George Group, after telling investors his real-estate development portfolio was worth $500 million, according to his indictment in March 2012.

George, a Newark resident, told prospective investors that their money would fund the George Group’s development of real estate projects in New Jersey and Connecticut, prosecutors charged.

“Instead of using investments to fund real estate development projects as promised, George used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme fashion,” Fishman said at the time of his indictment.

George was arrested in September 2011 on a Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint charging him with one count of wire fraud. He was released on $250,000 bail.

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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