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Monday, August 5
Updated: August 6, 7:20 AM ET
 
Government reportedly can link Webber to booster

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Federal prosecutors are expected to seek charges against Sacramento Kings star Chris Webber on charges he lied to a grand jury about his dealings with a University of Michigan basketball booster, sources have told The Detroit News.

A grand jury could be asked to indict Webber as early as Wednesday on charges of making a false declaration before a grand jury on Aug. 2, 2000, the newspaper reported Tuesday.

It quoted unidentified sources familiar with the investigation.

If convicted, the former Michigan and Detroit Country Day standout could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. It is unclear how many counts Webber would face in an indictment.

A message left with Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, was not immediately returned late Monday night.

Kings spokesman Troy Hanson said he had not heard about any possible indictment and declined further comment.

In May, former Michigan booster Ed Martin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Martin, 68, admitted he took gambling money, co-mingled it with earned income and money given to him from another person, then loaned it to at least four players while they were still amateurs.

Martin said he paid $280,000 to Webber; $160,000 to Robert Traylor, now with the Charlotte Hornets; $105,000 to Maurice Taylor, now with the Houston Rockets; and $71,000 to Louis Bullock, who is playing professionally in Europe.

Martin's attorney, William Mitchell III of Troy, said Webber's indictment was "a distinct possibility -- Mr. Webber and several others.''

Traylor and Bullock admitted receiving the loans when they testified in front of the grand jury, said their attorney, Steve Fishman.

"They didn't lie to the grand jury. They didn't commit any crime. They may have committed an NCAA violation, but they have nothing to worry about,'' Fishman said Monday.

Chicago Bulls and former Michigan player Jalen Rose also said in May that he took "pocket money'' from Martin.

After Martin's indictment, Webber publicly denied taking significant amounts of money from Martin and said the government's charges were inaccurate.

"Mr. Webber probably needs to consult with counsel before he makes any further statements,'' Martin's attorney said.

Among the government's evidence that Webber was not truthful with the grand jury are detailed financial records that suggest Webber repaid Martin about $40,000, the newspaper reported.

"The government believes they may have some information to that end,'' Mitchell said.

On May 28, Martin testified that he gave Webber -- whose full legal name is Mayce Edward Christopher Webber III -- about $280,000 in cash and gifts and that he paid for other college expenses.

Webber, 29, who led the Michigan basketball team dubbed the "Fab Five'' for its starting freshmen lineup in 1991, was the first pick in the 1993 National Basketball Association draft.




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