March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Tate George, a former player for the National Basketball Association’s New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, was indicted on charges of running a $2 million Ponzi scheme that targeted ex-professional athletes.
George, 43, 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 a four-count wire-fraud indictment in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.
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,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.
“He also used some of the money for home improvement projects, meals at restaurants, clothing and gas,” Fishman said. “The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations.”
George faces as many as 20 years in prison on each count. His attorney, Thomas Ashley, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the indictment.
Arrested in September
George was arrested last September on a Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint charging him with one count of wire fraud. He was released on $250,000 bail.
After his arrest, Ashley said: “He maintains his innocence and will plead not guilty. All these charges are clearly defensible.”
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. In a four-year career, George averaged 4.2 points and 1.8 assists a game.
The case is U.S. v. George, 11-mag-03197, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).
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