Sampson to spend two months in jail on fraud charge
RICHMOND, Va. -- Former NBA player Ralph Sampson will serve two months in jail for mail fraud under a plea agreement approved by a federal judge Thursday.
In exchange for Sampson's guilty plea, federal prosecutors dropped charges of perjury, making a false claim and making a false statement about Sampson's finances in a child support case.
U.S. District Judge James Spencer approved the deal on the day Sampson's non-jury trial was scheduled to begin. Sampson faced a maximum of five years in prison and a fine on $250,000 on each count if convicted.
The mail fraud count was related to Sampson's purchase of a vehicle in 2004.
Spencer agreed to Sampson's request to delay his incarceration until April.
"I've not seen one thing that convinces me Mr. Sampson is a bad person, a terrible person," the judge said. "He was unable to pay, not unwilling to pay."
Sampson told reporters outside of court that was eager to put his troubles behind him.
"We all have to suffer some anguishes in life," Sampson said. "This is mine."
Sampson, 46, pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay about $300,000 in court-ordered child support for two children who live in northern Virginia and have different mothers. His sentencing was postponed after he was indicted on perjury, false claim, mail fraud and false statement charges.
The indictment alleged Sampson told authorities he was self-employed by "Sampson Communications" and had no income; prosecutors contended he earned $5,000 per month as a consultant and made commercials and promotional appearances for another in exchange for a $200,000 home.
The indictment also said Sampson denied owning a $43,000 sport utility vehicle, which he bought using a corporate identity, and that he sent documents regarding the SUV from Georgia to Virginia for the purpose of defrauding a financing company.
Sampson is to pay the $300,000 in back child support under an earlier agreement with federal prosecutors.
Sampson was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Rockets in 1983 after playing at the University of Virginia. In nine NBA seasons, he averaged 15.4 points.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press