CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Spencer Stolpen, former president of the Charlotte Hornets, was sentenced to 15 months in prison
Monday for scheming to defraud banks to pay off his mounting debts.
Federal prosecutors said Stolpen was facing rising overdue bills
in 2002 when he engaged in the fraud scheme. Stolpen pleaded guilty
to bank fraud and filing a fraudulent bank loan application.
Last November, federal prosecutors filed a plea agreement that
called for the 15-month sentence. Stolpen was accused of forging a
$110,000 check in 2002 and depositing it into his personal checking
account, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, Stolpen had checks drawn against
the fraudulently created balance in his personal checking account
and made payable to "his impatient debtors," and defaulted on a
$449,500 mortgage loan in early 2002.
Stolpen also was accused of filing a fraudulent personal
financial statement with BB&T Bank in support of a loan
application. Prosecutors said the financial statement listed more
than $800,000 in liquid assets that Stolpen did not own.
Stolpen was Hornets president for more than five years before he
was let go by owner George Shinn in May 1996. Stolpen had worked 13
years for Shinn, starting out as a teacher in one of his business
Stolpen lost his Florida law license in 1981 after the state bar
demanded his records and he refused to supply them. He was
disbarred and a short time later filed for bankruptcy, claiming he
Stolpen also was one of 14 men indicted in 1979 on charges of
conspiring to smuggle marijuana in Florida. According to the
indictment, he agreed to send money to a suspected drug smuggler in
Stolpen denied the charge, which was later thrown out because
police made a paperwork error when they sought court permission for