- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

RICHMOND - Former NBA and University of Virginia star Ralph Sampson will serve two months in jail for mail fraud as part of a plea agreement approved by a federal judge today.

In exchange for the 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, prosecutors had said.

The mail-fraud count was related to Sampson’s purchase of a vehicle in 2004.

Judge Spencer agreed to Sampson’s request to delay his incarceration until April.

“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 he was eager to put his troubles behind him.

“We all have to suffer some anguishes in life,” he said. “This is mine.”

Sampson, 46, 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. A superseding indictment on May 3 added the mail-fraud and false-statement charges.

Sampson made his first court appearance on the child-support charges in Georgia. The latest indictment claimed Sampson had told authorities there that he was self-employed by “Sampson Communications” and had no income. Prosecutors contended that Sampson had earned $5,000 per month as a consultant for one company and had 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 had 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.

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