By SAMANTHA HENRY
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Tate George, who hit one of the most memorable shots in UConn basketball history and then went on to a brief NBA career, surrendered to federal authorities in New Jersey on Friday to face charges stemming from what prosecutors say was a Ponzi scheme.
George used his company, which he purported to be a real estate investment firm, to run a more than $2 million investment fraud scam, prosecutors said.
A message left for George’s attorney was not immediately returned Friday.
Prosecutors said 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.
George instead used some of the new investor money to make principal and interest payments to existing investors, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. He also used the money for improvements on his home and personal expenses including gas, restaurant meals and clothing, Fishman said.
George is perhaps best known for a shot he made playing for the University of Connecticut, when his last-second turnaround jumper at the buzzer in 1990 gave UConn a victory in the NCAA regional semifinal game against Clemson. That earned him a spot among 25 members of Connecticut’s All-Century Team, as voted on by a panel of experts and fans in 2001.
He was the New Jersey Nets first-round pick, the 22nd round pick overall, in the 1990 NBA draft. He played in 177 NBA games over four seasons for the New Jersey Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 4.2 points per game.
Now 43, George was scheduled to make an initial court appearance on the wire fraud charge on Friday afternoon in Newark, N.J., where he lives. He would face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.