Traylor pleads guilty to tax fraud

Updated: January 25, 2007, 7:40 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Former NBA player Robert Traylor pleaded guilty Thursday to preparing a false tax return after hiding assets for a convicted drug dealer.

Traylor's name was used to make it appear that he purchased two Detroit rental properties, but the properties were actually bought and owned by Quasand Lewis, a convicted drug trafficker and money launderer, according to U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy's office.

The 29-year-old Traylor admitted in his plea that the properties were listed in his name to conceal Lewis' ownership from police. Traylor also admitted claiming a false loss of more than $205,000 from the properties on his 2004 federal income tax return.

"Robert Traylor is a basketball player, not a businessman," Traylor's attorney, Steven Fishman, told The Associated Press on Thursday night. "He got some bad advice and unfortunately he took it. So here we are."

Traylor is the second defendant to plead guilty this year to concealing assets for Lewis, who was sentenced in December to 18 years in prison for his role in distributing more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana in the Detroit area.

Lewis and Traylor are cousins, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported.

Traylor faces up to 14 months in prison. A sentencing hearing was not immediately scheduled.

Traylor was one of the former University of Michigan players whose ties to booster Ed Martin resulted in Traylor's disassociation from the school in 2003 and NCAA sanctions against its basketball program.

Martin, who died in 2003 at 69, pleaded guilty in 2002 to conspiracy to launder money and told federal prosecutors he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent $616,000 to Traylor, Chris Webber -- who now plays for the Detroit Pistons -- and two other Wolverines players.

Because of NCAA violations connected to the case, Michigan was not eligible for postseason play for two years, lost scholarships and was placed on probation.

Officials from Detroit Murray-Wright, where Traylor played high school basketball, voluntarily forfeited every game won during Traylor's senior season.

In 1998, Traylor was drafted in the first round, sixth overall, by the Dallas Mavericks. He played for Milwaukee, Charlotte, New Orleans and Cleveland from 1998-2005. Traylor signed with New Jersey as a free agent before the 2005-06 season but failed a physical and never played for the Nets.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press