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holygoat

Chris Webber to be indicted for lying...

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...to the grand jury about his dealings with Ed Martin. So will report the Detroit News tomorrow morning.

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DETROIT -- The U.S. Attorney's Office is expected to seek an indictment as early as Wednesday of NBA star Chris Webber for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury about his dealings with banned University of Michigan basketball booster Eddie Martin.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Detroit News that a grand jury would be asked to indict Webber, the former U-M and Detroit Country Day star, on making a false declaration before a grand jury on Aug. 2, 2000. Conviction on a single charge could bring a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.

The grand jury that will consider the Webber indictment is the grand jury that indicted Martin in May on charges he ran an illegal lottery at Ford Motor Co. plants in Metro Detroit. He admits using some of the proceeds to loan, between 1988 and 1999, a total of $616,000 to four former U-M basketball players -- including $280,000 to Chris Webber and his family.

Martin has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a promise from the government that he serve no more than 37 months in prison and pay a fine of as much as $1.2 million. He is set to be sentenced Aug. 29 by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland. Part of that agreement requires that Martin cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into his admission that he made loans to players.

Among the government's evidence that Webber wasn't truthful with the grand jury are detailed financial records that suggest Webber repaid Martin about $40,000, a source close to the investigation said.

Martin, 68, already has been extensively interviewed by the FBI about his dealings with the U-M players and has turned over other evidence that supports the government's belief that Webber lied when he testified, the sources said.

During Martin's guilty plea on May 28, he told Cleland that he gave Webber -- whose full legal name is Mayce Edward Christopher Webber III -- about $280,000 in cash and gifts and that he paid for other college expenses.

"I paid rent at apartments and I paid for hotel bills at different places," Martin told Cleland.

The controversy has dealt a severe blow to the once nationally touted men's basketball program. The investigation led to the firing of Coach Steve Fisher in 1997.

Webber, 29, who led the U-M basketball team dubbed the "Fab Five" for its starting freshmen lineup in 1991, was the first pick in the 1993 National Basketball Association draft. Webber, an all-star player for the Sacramento Kings, last year signed a contract that pays him $123 million over seven years.

After Martin's indictment, Webber made a string of public statements denying taking significant amounts of money from Martin and saying the government's charges were inaccurate.

Webber told the New York Times in April that Martin invited players in the area to cut his grass for $20.

"You have to remember, ninth or 10th grade, $20 is all you need for a week," he said. "I didn't get cars; I didn't get nothing. I got $20 here and there, a lot of times. I'll be honest, it happened a lot. And that shouldn't diminish the seriousness of it. Come on. I did not take $260,000 or $280,000. I did not take $100,000. I did not take tens of thousands of dollars."

Others accused

It is unclear how many counts Webber would face if he is indicted.

Martin's attorney, William Mitchell III of Troy, told The Detroit News on Monday that an indictment of the NBA star is "a distinct possibility -- Mr. Webber and several others."

Mitchell said he has read Webber's public statements since Martin's indictment.

"Mr. Webber probably needs to consult with counsel before he makes any further statements," Mitchell said. Asked to confirm reports that Webber repaid nearly $40,000 to Martin, Mitchell said: "The government believes they may have some information to that end."

The government disclosed in April in a court filing that it has 105 audiotapes of intercepted calls from Martin's house in connection with its investigation into the lottery and payments to players. It hasn't disclosed whether any of those conversations were with U-M basketball players.

According to Martin's indictment, Charlotte Hornets player Robert Traylor, a Michigan center from 1995-98, received $160,000; Maurice Taylor, a former U-M player now with the Houston Rockets, received $105,000; and Louis Bullock, a U-M guard from 1995-99 who plays professionally in Europe, received $71,000.

Traylor and Bullock admitted to receiving the loans when they testified in front of the grand jury, their attorney Steve Fishman, said.

"They didn't lie to the grand jury. They didn't commit any crime. They may have committed an NCAA violation, but they have nothing to worry about," Fishman said Monday.

Jalen Rose, another member of U-M's Fab Five and a Chicago Bulls player, said in May that he took "pocket money" from Martin.

The banned booster's son, Carlton Martin, 38, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in June 2001 for his role in his father's illegal lottery ring. He was fined $30,000.

As part of the plea agreement, Eddie Martin forfeited about $30,000, but the government promised not to seek to take his house. They also dropped charges against his wife, Hilda.

Ultimately, Martin was banned from the basketball program. Many people connected to the program, as well as Athletic Director Joe Roberson, resigned.

The NCAA could still discipline U-M's program, including forfeiting games or paying penalties.

Officials decline comment

Any decision to seek an indictment against Webber would have to be approved by Alan Gershel, the chief assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit, and assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Corbett, head of the organized crime strike force.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey G. Collins recused himself after telling the Justice Department he served on the board of a small Southfield-based charitable foundation founded by Webber.

A Detroit attorney, L. Fallasha Erwin, who has identified himself as a consultant to Webber, said Monday that he hadn't heard from anyone in the government about Webber's status. "I don't know what the government is going to be doing," said Erwin, who added that he speaks to Webber several times a week.

Asked if Webber had anything to fear from his grand jury testimony, Erwin said: "I haven't talked to (Webber) about it. It hasn't become an issue."

FBI Special Agent in Charge John E. Bell Jr., who heads the Detroit FBI, declined to comment through a spokeswoman, Dawn Clenney. Officials in the U.S. Attorney's Office also declined to comment

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The Martin investigation

The investigation of U-M basketball booster Eddie Martin took six years from the moment his name first surfaced. Now, as part of that investigation, federal authorities are seeking to indict NBA star Chris Webber.

1996

Feb. 17: At 4:30 on a Saturday morning, U-M basketball player Maurice Taylor veers off the shoulder of the road and rolls a new Ford Explorer registered to a relative. His passengers, teammates Robert Traylor, Willie Mitchell, Louis Bullock and Ron Oliver, and Mateen Cleaves, a Flint Northern recruit they had been entertaining at an all-night party in a Detroit hotel room featuring liquor, marijuana and strippers, escape with minor injuries.

March 15: NCAA enforcers receive anonymous allegations that two U-M boosters may have provided improper benefits to basketball players, and ask U-M to investigate.

1997

March 4: Investigation finds Martin was involved in minor NCAA violations such as giving a player a cake, and being present at a recruit's home during a visit by Coach Steve Fisher.

March 7: The Detroit News, in an investigation into the source of Martin's money, uncovers a massive illegal lottery run by Martin at the Ford Rouge engine plant where he had retired more than a decade earlier. Employees describe Martin coming into the plant almost daily, and leaving with the sleeves and pants legs of his blue Michigan track suit bulging with cash.

March 17: U-M reopens the investigation, hiring Kansas City, Kan., law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, considered the top firm in the country in such probes -- but no major violations can be proven.

1999

April 28: After a two-year investigation, the FBI springs its trap, executing search warrants at the homes of Martin, his son, Carlton Martin and other lieutenants of the Rouge plant gambling ring.

2000

May 3: Eddie Martin backs out of a plea agreement that would have protected his wife from prosecution and their home from forfeiture because of a clause requiring him to reveal his dealings with former U-M players.

2001

June 2: Carlton Martin spurns an offer of leniency in exchange for information about his father's dealings with U-M players, and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

2002

March 21: U.S. government arrests Eddie Martin on eight counts; the indictment names four former U-M basketball players -- Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock -- who, along with their families, allegedly received $616,000 from Martin during their playing days.

May 28: Eddie Martin pleads guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and faces 30 to 37 months in prison -- a sentence that can be erased if he discusses his involvement with the university's basketball players. He is expected to be sentenced Aug. 29 and will receive no more than 37 months under a plea agreement.

Webber's words

Here's what Chris Webber has said about the claim he took money from banned University of Michigan basketball booster Eddie Martin, who has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and faces 30 to 37 months in prison:

"There's no way in the world that I took $280,000 from someone," Webber told ESPN on April 1. "I've said this a million times. We had to actually go to court to testify about it, so if the judge, if the lawyers, if everyone else respected it, I thought it would get out to the media outlets as well. So, no, I didn't take anything."

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This just backs up what I was saying in Vasteras's football poll about college athletes and the real reason they go there- cash. Education has nothing to do wit it, right C-WEBB?

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Why Rob Parker is not a good writer:

This is from his column earlier in the weeks.

On Tuesday, The Detroit News reported that the U.S. Attorney's Office is expected to seek an indictment as early as today of Webber, a Sacramento Kings star, for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury about his dealings with banned University of Michigan booster Eddie Martin

next paragraph:

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Detroit News that a grand jury would be asked to indict Webber, a former U-M and Detroit Country Day star, on making a false declaration before a grand jury on Aug. 2, 2000.

He just repeated himself. He had to come up with a certain number of words so he did that to just fill up space. I did that in high school when I needed 4-6 pages for a paper on Tom Sawyer. Not what I'd expect from someone who boasts of a Master's Degree from Columbia.

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Originally posted by Oblong

Not what I'd expect from someone who boasts of a Master's Degree from Columbia.

"Columbia Univeristy" ?

Or "Columbia School of What's Happenin' Now" ... which is down the block.

The two are often confused.

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