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Question of the Day
DES MOINES, IOWA (AP) - Rumeal Robinson, who led Michigan to the NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1989 and later played in the NBA, was convicted in federal court Wednesday of borrowing more than $700,000 for a sham business deal and then spending the money on a condominium, expensive furniture and cars.
A jury found Robinson guilty of 11 counts, including bank bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making a false statement to a financial institution. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each count. A date for sentencing hasn’t been set.
Among a lengthy list of accusations by prosecutors was one accusing Robinson of scheming to sell his mother’s home in Cambridge, Mass., without her knowledge.
Robinson grew up in Cambridge and was a star at Michigan best known for sinking two free throws that helped the Wolverines beat Seton Hall in the 1989 national title game. He was drafted 10th overall by Atlanta in 1990 and went on to play six seasons in the NBA with the Hawks, Nets, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Suns and Lakers.
Federal prosecutors say Robinson schemed between 2004 and 2005 to borrow the money from Community State Bank in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny. He had the help of Brian Williams, a loan officer at the bank who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud before Robinson’s trial began.
Prosecutors said Williams signed off on an initial $377,000 loan to Robinson for his business, Megaladon Development Inc., which was supposedly pursuing a development deal in Jamaica. Instead, Robinson bought a condo, plasma TVs and designer furniture, prosecutors said.
They said Robinson put the condo in the name of his girlfriend, listing her as his company’s marketing director though she actually worked in a strip club.
When Williams‘ lending authority at the bank ran out, he and Robinson circumvented the $500,000 limit by having the mother-in-law of Robinson’s business partner, Jorge Rodriguez, sign documents for a $150,000 loan that was wired directly to Robinson’s company.
Prosecutors said the woman was told she was signing the documents to invest in Robinson’s company, but he spent $44,000 to buy or lease 10 vehicles, including three Mercedes, two BMWs and five motorcycles. He also spent $3,000 at strip clubs, bought a dog for $1,000 and spent $28,000 on house-related payments, prosecutors said.
When it became obvious the Jamaica deal would fail, Robinson and Williams became involved in an energy project with a company called Fairway Energy. Williams loaned $495,000 to the company in exchange for a promise of a payment of that same amount to Williams. Another $101,000 loan was made by Williams in connection with the energy company.
Prosecutors also said Robinson arranged for the sale of his mother’s house in Cambridge. His business partner became the owner of the house in 2004 because Robinson persuaded his mother to use equity in the house for the Jamaica project, and the sale of the house occurred in 2006 without his mother’s knowledge.
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt said Robinson paid off Williams to obtain the loans, lied on court documents and took advantage of people for their credit scores. Klinefeldt said he used the Jamaica project as an excuse to ask people for money when in reality “he planned to use it for his own lavish lifestyle.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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