DETROIT (AP) -- On the eve of his federal perjury trial, Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of criminal contempt in a deal that is expected to allow him to avoid prison time.
Webber had been charged with lying to a grand jury about money authorities say he received from former Michigan basketball booster Ed Martin. He could have faced up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
During Monday's hearing, the former Michigan player admitted that in 1994 he gave Martin about $38,000 in cash as repayment for past expenditures the former booster made on his behalf.
``I'm relieved that it is in the process of being over,'' Webber said after the hearing.
In the agreement with prosecutors, Webber will face a fine. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds will decide whether the criminal contempt charge is a felony or a misdemeanor. Sentencing was set for Sept. 16.
A perjury charge against the player's father, Mayce Webber Jr., is expected to be dropped Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino said. The father's attorney declined to comment.
Jury selection in Chris Webber's trial had been scheduled to begin Tuesday. He left the courtroom Monday without talking to reporters.
Martin, who died Feb. 14 at age 69, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to launder money. He admitted he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent it to several players while they were in school.
The retired autoworker said he lent $616,000 to Webber and three other Wolverines players -- Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock -- while they were amateurs. Martin said he gave Webber and his family $280,000 from 1988-93, a period extending from his freshman year in high school through his sophomore season at Michigan.
Because of NCAA violations connected to the case, Michigan was banned from postseason play in 2003 and '04, and forfeited 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons, plus its victory in the 1992 NCAA semifinal.
Webber, who is in the second year of a 7-year, $123-million contract with the Kings, has denied taking anything of significant value from Martin. During his 2000 appearance before the grand jury investigating Martin's dealings, Webber said he took money from Martin in high school, but could not remember if he took money in college.
Martin's death left federal prosecutors without the only person who could provide crucial information. The absence of the booster's testimony resulted in the charges against Webber's aunt being thrown out in May. An obstruction of justice charge against Webber also was dismissed in June.
The prosecution was dealt another blow last week when the judge ruled they could not present key testimony and evidence, including notes kept by Martin that appeared to indicate that Webber borrowed money from him while playing in high school and college.
Prosecutors also would have been prohibited from calling other players to testify about amounts they said they received from Martin.
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#2 Posted on 15.7.03 0800.52 Reposted on: 15.7.10 0805.11
From the time he called that time out they didn't have in Michigan (after the ref tried to ingnore him), I've considered him to be one of the stupidest players in the NBA.
He should have just been honest from the start and taken the heat then instead of now.
Everyone knows these athletes get gifts and stuff from a very young age.
"Hey kid, you're awesome on the court. Come to my basketball camp! If you do, you'll get free gear and sneakers! (and hot girls and parties and stuff)"
Then we drop our jaws in awe as they grow to be over-indulged asses. Really now.
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