RICHMOND, Va. -- Former NBA player Ralph Sampson will serve two months in jail for mail fraud under a plea agreement approved by a federal judge Thursday.
In exchange for Sampson's guilty plea, federal prosecutors
dropped charges of perjury, making a false claim and making a false
statement about Sampson's finances in a child support case.
U.S. District Judge James Spencer approved the deal on the day
Sampson's non-jury trial was scheduled to begin. Sampson faced a
maximum of five years in prison and a fine on $250,000 on each
count if convicted.
The mail fraud count was related to Sampson's purchase of a
vehicle in 2004.
Spencer agreed to Sampson's request to delay his incarceration
"I've not seen one thing that convinces me Mr. Sampson is a bad
person, a terrible person," the judge said. "He was unable to
pay, not unwilling to pay."
Sampson told reporters outside of court that was eager to put
his troubles behind him.
"We all have to suffer some anguishes in life," Sampson said.
"This is mine."
Sampson, 46, pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay about
$300,000 in court-ordered child support for two children who live
in northern Virginia and have different mothers. His sentencing was
postponed after he was indicted on perjury, false claim, mail fraud
and false statement charges.
The indictment alleged Sampson told authorities he was
self-employed by "Sampson Communications" and had no income;
prosecutors contended he earned $5,000 per month as a consultant
and made commercials and promotional appearances for another in
exchange for a $200,000 home.
The indictment also said Sampson denied owning a $43,000 sport
utility vehicle, which he bought using a corporate identity, and
that he sent documents regarding the SUV from Georgia to Virginia
for the purpose of defrauding a financing company.
Sampson is to pay the $300,000 in back child support under an
earlier agreement with federal prosecutors.
Sampson was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Rockets in 1983 after playing at the University of Virginia. In nine NBA seasons, he averaged 15.4 points.