Former NBA player may get 9 years in prison, sentencing postponed


tate-george-netsFraud sentencing for former NBA player Tate George has been postponed until August 19-20, while he was scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Trenton, NJ.

George didn’t attend the hearing. He has been held in jail in New Jersey since his conviction last fall on four wire fraud counts. George is convicted of ripping off investors in a Ponzi scheme, AP reported.

George, a former UConn star who later played for the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, is best remembered for a buzzer-beating shot in the NCAA Tournament in a 1990 game against Clemson.

The U.S. attorney’s office said George operated a Ponzi scheme by persuading victims, including other pro athletes, to invest in a purported real estate opportunity.

Instead of purchasing the real estate he’d touted, prosecutors said, George used the money to pay off earlier investors and to cover personal expenses.

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.

Wire fraud carries a maximum 20-year sentence, though defendants rarely receive the maximum. Since George had no previous criminal history, his sentence under federal guidelines will depend largely on the total monetary loss to his victims, George’s attorney, David Schafer said.

That figure has been estimated at about $2 million, but Schafer said the government is claiming a higher figure based on more victims than the seven who testified at trial. He said he is seeking a sentence of three to four years, while the government is pushing for about nine years.

”Mr. George had a consulting and development business over many years,” Schafer said. ”The government is basically going back and seeing who is claiming to be a victim.”

Among the witnesses testifying for the prosecution at George’s trial were Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva and ”The Apprentice” winner Randal Pinkett.

George’s victims will have the opportunity to testify at his sentencing. Schafer said he expects George to speak as well.

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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