Former NJ Nets Player, UConn Star, Arrested for Alleged Ponzi Scheme

Friday, Sep 23, 2011  |  Updated 5:07 PM EDT
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Former Nets Player, UConn Star, Ran Ponzi Scheme: Feds

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Tate George seen during the 1991-1992 NBA season, when he played for the New Jersey Nets. He surrendered to authorities Friday on allegations of running a Ponzi scheme.

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Former NBA player Tate George surrendered Friday to federal authorities who accuse him of orchestrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

George, who made an iconic shot for UConn against Clemson during a Sweet 16 game in 1990 before moving on to play with the New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, gave himself up to FBI agents and postal inspectors in Newark.

A criminal complaint charges him with one count of wire fraud, alleging that as the CEO of The George Group, he took money from prospective investors, and instead of using it for real estate developments as promised, he paid off other investors in a classic Ponzi scheme.

He is also accused of pocketing some of the money himself, paying for home improvement projects, clothing, meals and other personal expenses.

The complaint says investors gave his firm more than $2 million between 2005 and early 2011.

"In reality, The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations," prosecutors said in a statement.

George faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Wearing a grey-green suit and with his wrists handcuffed in front of him at his first appearance Friday in Newark federal court, the 43-year-old George spoke briefly to say he understood his rights. Bail was set at $250,000, secured by a property bond signed by George's mother, who was in court with other family members.

George's attorney, Thomas Ashley, said his client was innocent of the charges and planned to plead not guilty.

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