Former NBA player Tate George was sentenced Thursday to nine years in prison for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme for more than $2 million, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.
George, 47, of Newark, a first round draft pick of the New Jersey Nets who also played for the Milwaukee Bucks, was convicted in 2013 on four counts of wire fraud.
George presented himself as CEO of The George Group claiming to have more than $500 million in assets, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney.
He pitched prospective investors – including NBA players and celebrities – and told them their money would be used to to fund real estate development projects. But according to the statement, George “used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme fashion.”
The statement added that George “used the money for home improvement projects, meals at restaurants, clothing and gas. In reality, The George Group had virtually no income generating operations.”
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NJ.com reported that George’s victims included Charlie Villanueva of the Dallas Mavericks and The Apprentice winner Randal Pinkett.
George – who is perhaps best-known for his game-winning shot in the 1990 NCAA tournament as a member of the University of Connecticut team to beat Clemson – was ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s statement says.