Former NBA Player and CEO of the George Group Indicted in Ponzi Scheme
NEWARK—C. Tate George, former NBA basketball player and the CEO of purported real estate development firm The George Group, was indicted today by a Newark grand jury for allegedly orchestrating a $2 million investment fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
George, 43, of Newark, was indicted on four counts of wire fraud. He was previously charged by criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud. He will be arraigned on the new charges in Newark federal court on a date to be determined.
According to the indictment and other documents filed in this case:
George, a former player for the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, held himself out as the CEO of The George Group and claimed to have more than $500 million in assets under management. He pitched prospective investors, including several former professional athletes, to invest with the firm and told them their money would be used to fund The George Group’s purchase and development of real estate development projects, including projects in Connecticut and New Jersey. George represented to some prospective investors that their funds would be held in an attorney trust account and personally guaranteed the return of their investments, with interest.
Based on George’s representations, investors invested more than $2 million in The George Group between 2005 and 2011, which he deposited in both the firm’s and his personal bank accounts. Instead of using investments to fund real estate development projects as promised, George used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi scheme fashion. He also used some of the money for home improvement projects, meals at restaurants, clothing, and gas. The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations.
Under the wire fraud counts with which he is charged, George faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; postal inspectors of the USPIS, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett; and the Securities and Exchange Commission, under the direction of George S. Canellos, director of the New York Regional Office, with the investigation leading to today’s Indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.