Former NBA player Tate George has been sentenced to nine years in prison by a federal court judge in New Jersey.
The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported Thursday that Tate was convicted for "running a real estate Ponzi scheme," and the judge also "ordered George to pay $2.5 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release."
Per the AP report, George had previously been convicted on multiple wire fraud counts, with his victims including current Dallas Mavericks forward Charlie Villanueva and former NBA point guard Brevin Knight.
Prior to the judge issuing his sentence, per the report, George spent "more than an hour and a half" asking for leniency and claiming he was innocent.
"For the umpteenth time, I'm sorry—I'm sorry the projects got delayed," George said. "I don't sleep at night. I'm begging to go to the law library (in jail) to get the information out."
Per Samantha Henry of the Associated Press (via SFGate.com), in September 2011, George surrendered to authorities and was charged with running a Ponzi scheme:
Prosecutors claim that between 2005 and March 2011, George persuaded people—including former professional athletes—to invest in what he promised would be high-return real estate development projects in Florida, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey. He claimed to be managing a real estate portfolio of more than $500 million in assets as CEO of The George Group and personally guaranteed people returns on their investments, plus interest, according to prosecutors.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in Henry's report that George was using "some of the new investor money to make principal and interest payments to existing investors."
In September 2013, when George was convicted on four counts of wire fraud and his bail was revoked, he faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
George played for the New Jersey Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks during his four-year NBA career, but he's best known for his buzzer-beater against Clemson in the 1990 NCAA tournament while playing for the University of Connecticut.