January 21, 2016 / 11:30 PM / 3 years ago

Ex-UConn star Tate George gets 9 years prison for fraud

(Reuters) - Tate George, a former University of Connecticut star who later played in the National Basketball Association, was sentenced on Thursday to nine years in prison for running what prosecutors called a $2 million real estate Ponzi scheme.

U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper in Trenton, New Jersey, who imposed the sentence, also ordered George to serve three years of supervised release and make $2.55 million of restitution.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey.

George, 47, of Newark, was convicted in September 2013 on the four wire fraud counts he faced.

Prosecutors said George cashed in on his celebrity from 2005 to 2011 when he raised more than $2 million meant for his real estate development firm, the George Group.

They said George deposited the money in the firm’s bank account and a personal account, and used some of it to repay early investors and to pay for home renovations, mortgages, a birthday party for his daughter, and other expenses.

The defendant represented himself in the case, Fishman said.

George, a 6-foot-5 (2-meter) guard, was a 1990 first-round draft choice for the New Jersey Nets. He played three seasons with that team, and later played for the Milwaukee Bucks.

At UConn, he is remembered for catching a full-court inbounds pass and making a buzzer-beating shot that helped his school beat Clemson during the 1990 NCAA basketball tournament.

The case is U.S. v. George, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 12-cr-00204.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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