Tentative agreement reached in Sampson perjury case

RICHMOND, Va. -- Former NBA and Virginia star Ralph Sampson, who is accused of lying to federal authorities about his finances in a child support case, would serve two months in jail under a plea agreement he is considering, his attorney said Tuesday.

The 46-year-old Sampson is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday for a trial on charges of perjury, making a false claim, mail fraud and making a false statement. Under the proposed agreement, the 7-foot-4 Sampson would plead guilty to one of the charges, his attorney, James C. Roberts, told The Associated Press.

Sampson faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count if convicted in the non-jury trial, prosecutors said.

"It hasn't been signed off by everybody involved," Roberts said of the tentative agreement. "We've been working on one for a couple of days now and hope it will go through."

Roberts said he has had "a lot of discussions" with Sampson regarding the agreement, but no final documents have been signed. Sampson was on his way to Richmond and hoped to finalize the agreement Wednesday, Roberts said.

If the agreement is accepted, Roberts said he planned to ask U.S. District Judge James Spencer to delay Sampson's incarceration until the spring of 2007.

Sampson pleaded guilty last year in Richmond to failing to pay about $300,000 in court-ordered child support for two children who live in northern Virginia and have different mothers. Sentencing was postponed after Sampson was indicted on the perjury and false claim charges in January. The mail fraud and false statement charges were added in May.

Sampson, who lives in Atlanta, made his first court appearance on the child support charges in Georgia. Sampson allegedly told authorities there that he was self-employed by Sampson Communications and had no income, but prosecutors claim Sampson was earning $5,000 per month as a consultant for one company and made commercials and promotional appearances for another in exchange for a $200,000 home.