Ex-Rocket Sampson pleads not guilty to perjury charge

RICHMOND, Va. -- Former NBA star Ralph Sampson pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he lied about his finances to obtain court-appointed counsel in a federal child support case.

The 7-foot-4 former Virginia All-American was indicted last month on one count each of perjury and making a false claim.

The charges stem from a child support case in which Sampson, 45, was charged with failure to pay more than $300,000 in child support to two daughters by different women. Under a plea agreement, he was to repay the child support and be spared prison time and fines.

At the time, his attorney said Sampson was working without salary for an online communications firm, but the indictment alleged Sampson had spent at least one month earning $5,000 as a consultant.

Attorney James Roberts insisted Monday that Sampson was truthful.

Sampson said he now works for a mortgage company in the Atlanta area. He wouldn't comment on the charges. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer set a May 16 hearing.

The Houston Rockets made Sampson the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft. Over nine NBA seasons, he scored 7,039 points, averaging 15.4 per game.