Ex-NBA player Minniefield's fraud trial cancelled
HOUSTON (AP) Former NBA player Dirk Minniefield will enter a federal diversion program to avoid a trial on fraud charges stemming from an alleged $10 million mortgage scheme in Texas, according to federal court documents.
Minniefield, 51, was arrested in December 2008 and faced one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and eight counts of wire fraud. His attorney, Steven Rosen, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Minniefield never had any malicious intent but formed relationships with bad financial partners.
An indictment alleged that Minniefield, while working as a real estate agent, represented buyers without meeting them and that the buyers never visited the properties they were buying. The former Kentucky star also was accused of contacting the sellers' agents to propose language that would increase the sales prices of homes by including a substantial payment for renovations.
His trial was to begin on July 2, but U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon in Houston cancelled it under the agreement that Minniefield would enter the program, according to court documents dated Friday.
Rosen said in a phone interview Tuesday night that Minniefield is due back in court in January 2014, after his 18-month program ends. Rosen said the program could encompass a wide range of community service activities.
``He's got to stay out of trouble,'' Rosen said. ``There's no drinking, there's no bars, there's no nothing. And they could have him speak before high school kids or college kids, or whatever they need, he's got to do it. He's got to prove to the U.S. government that he can conduct himself like everybody else does, and abide by the law.''
Rosen said Minniefield never had any malicious intent but formed relationships with bad financial partners. Rosen said the former NBA player was grateful that prosecutors realized he was ``a good man who just put his trust in the wrong people.''
Minniefield was a star at Kentucky and was drafted 33rd overall in 1983 by the Dallas Mavericks. He played three NBA seasons with four teams in a career cut short by drug use.
He was arrested in 1991 and served one year in jail for writing bad checks and violating his probation. He also struggled with drug use during his basketball career and eventually checked into the Houston-area rehabilitation program run by former NBA player John Lucas.
Rosen says Minniefield is out of the real-estate business and now works with the NBA's drug treatment program, counseling players who've encountered substance-abuse issues. He said Minniefield was relieved to have the fraud case behind him.
``We're putting the whole thing in the rear-view mirror,'' Rosen said.