YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Jurors in federal court in Newark this afternoon convicted former University of Connecticut basketball star Tate George of four counts of federal wire fraud following less than a day of deliberations.
George could face from six to nine years in federal prison, prosecutors said, following the three-week trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Mary Cooper said she considered him a flight risk, so she had George cuffed and taken into custody.
This came after Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Shumofsky told her: “If your honor lets him walk out of the courthouse today, there is more than a good chance that we will never see him again.”
Until the trial, George was best known for a spinning shot that gave UConn an amazing NCAA tournament win.
Among those who lost money in his Ponzi scheme were NBA player and former UConn superstar Charlie Villanueva, former NBA player Brevin Knight of the Cleveland Cavaliers and a municipal judge, all of whom testified during the trial.
Another investor, “The Apprentice” reality show star Randal Pinkett, won a $145,000 civil court judgment against George.
The government said George used $250,000 of investors’ money on his family, girlfriends and himself — as well as to pay $19,000 he owed to the IRS, $3,000 for his daughter’s Sweet 16 party and $3,000 to promote his own YouRube reality show.
George, in turn, said he intended to pay everyone back.
During closing arguments this morning, Shumofsky said George provided false documents claiming he had $12 million in assets, including a $1 million NBA pension. However, testimony during the trial showed that he got $200,000 for his four years with the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks.
When she sentences George on Jan. 16, Cooper may take into account what the prosecutor said is proof that the losses include 10 victims in all for nearly $7 million.
Until then, he will be held in federal custody in the Monmouth County Jail.
Sports fans best remember George for catching a 90-foot pass with 1 second left and making a buzzer-beating jump shot against Clemson that put top-seeded UConn into the Elite Eight in 1990.
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