From the CT Post:
UConn basketball great Tate George was indicted Friday by a grand jury in his home state of New Jersey on charges he orchestrated a $2 million investment fraud scheme, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
George, 43, of Newark, known for his last-second spinning jumpshot against Clemson that sent the Huskies into the 1990 NCAA Tournament Elite 8, was charged with four counts of wire fraud.
George was previously charged in September by a criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud for his role in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
George, who played in the NBA with the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, will be arraigned at a date to be determined.
While CEO of The George Group, the basketball star claimed to have more than $500 million in assets under management when pitching prospective investors, including several former professional athletes, to invest with the firm, according to court documents.
George told the athletes his firm would use the money to purchase and develop real estate projects in Connecticut, including property in Bridgeport, and New Jersey. He told them the money would be held in an attorney trust account and personally guaranteed a return on their investments, with interest.
Investors gave more than $2 million to The George Group between 2005 and 2011, and he deposited the money in the firm’s and his personal bank account. He then used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme fashion. He used some of the money for home improvement projects, meals at restaurants, clothing and gas, court documents show.
The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations.
George faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, if convicted.
A key contributor in the Huskies’ 1989-90 Dream Season, during which UConn rose to national prominence and earned its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, George caught a court-length pass from Hamden’s Scott Burrell, spun and fired up a 15-foot shot that fell through the net as time expired to defeat Clemson.
After the buzzer-beater, George went on to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft and play four seasons in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks and New Jersey Nets.
Following his professional basketball career, George moved into the real estate industry, following the advice of UConn coach Jim Calhoun.
George’s business was part of a development team chosen in 2009 to build a $30 million “urban shopping center” on the 16-acre former Carpenter Technology property off Seaview Avenue in Bridgeport.
Plans for the project, to be called Seaview Plaza, include a 65,000-square-foot grocery store, a pharmacy with drive-through facilities, a gas station, community center and waterfront restaurant on the property.
The project would have been George’s first in Connecticut, and he promised East End residents that it would “exceed expectations.” George was working in partnership with the Simon Konover Co., of West Hartford.
In August 2011, Mayor Bill Finch’s administration said the much-anticipated project had been delayed because of a slow permitting process.
In a statement released in September, Finch said the charges against George would not impede the development’s progress because Konover is the principal member of the development and had a “limited partnership” with George’s business.
The case was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Postal Service inspectors.