YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Tate George, best known for a spinning shot that gave UConn an amazing NCAA tournament win, used money he collected through a more than $2 million Ponzi scheme that victimized fellow NBA players to pay for child support, among other expenses, federal authorities in New Jersey said this morning.
C. Tate George
George, 43, of Newark, surrendered this morning in Newark to special agents of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on a criminal Complaint charging him with one count of wire fraud in connection with the real estate investment scheme.
He has a court appearance scheduled this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz in Newark.
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. George later played for the Nets, 76ers and Bucks.
The former point guard was CEO of The George Group when he used money from investors to pay off others — while keeping some to pay for work on his house, clothing, gas and meals, among other expenses, U.S. Attorney Paul S. Fishman said. He then lied to federal investigators about it, Fishman said.
Beginning in 2005 and continuing into this March, he said, Tate boasted “a real estate development portfolio worth in excess of $500 million.” He gave his basketball pals promissory notes that “reflected the amount of their investment and a schedule, which varied from a matter of days to up to one year, for the payment of interest and the return of investors’ principal.”
“In reality, The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations,” the U.S. Attorney said.
One of the players – identified in court papers as B.K. – thought he was investing $300,000 in a real estate development project in East Orange, with a promise of a full return plus $18,000 in interest, Fishman said.
Immediately after the player wired the money into an attorney’s account, George shifted it to an account in his firm’s name, then shipped $6,000 to an unidentified co-conspirator, the U.S. Attorney said.
He then used the reset of the money to pay child support, among other expenses, he said.
The case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, designed to “wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes,” Fishman said.
The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, “bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources,” he said.
Its goals include working to “ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes,” Fishman added.
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