Prosecutor: LeBron James' Mentor To Be Indicted

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A father figure to high school basketball star LeBron James is the target of a two-year fraud investigation and will be indicted on Thursday, prosecutors said.

Eddie Jackson Jr. will be charged following a grand jury investigation of mortgage fraud and money laundering, spokesman Bill Canterbury of the Summit County Prosecutor's office said on Wednesday. He would not say what specific charges would be filed.

Canterbury said Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh will announce the indictments against Jackson, 35, of Akron, and four associates on Thursday in Akron.

Jackson said the investigation had nothing to do with James.

Canterbury said Jackson has been cooperative with investigators and has promised to turn himself in.

Jackson's lawyer, Angelo Lonardo, confirmed the existence of a grand jury investigation to The Plain Dealer, which reported the investigation on Wednesday.

"It's way too early to talk about this," Lonardo told the newspaper. "The process is just getting started. We'll go to court, hear the charges and start from there."

Lonardo did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Jackson said on Wednesday that he was unaware of the story.

"I haven't read it," Jackson said. "I haven't talked to my lawyer about it yet, and I have no further comment."

Court records show Akron police have been investigating Jackson for at least two years, before James became the top high school player in the country.

James, Ohio's Mr. Basketball the past two years, has already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which dubbed the 18-year-old "The Chosen One" (magazine cover pictured, above).

He will be a senior this fall at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and is expected to be a top NBA draft pick if he decides to skip college and turn pro.

James recently broke his left wrist when he got undercut during an AAU tournament game in Chicago. His wrist will be in a cast for six more weeks.

James and his mother, Gloria, have described Jackson as LeBron's father, saying LeBron's biological father has never been involved in LeBron's life.

According to court records, police seized Jackson's 2000 Lincoln Navigator, a 2000 Jaguar S-type, a Toshiba laptop computer and 10 boxes of documents from an Akron home last August.

A detective told a judge that police have probable cause to believe that Jackson and associates "are committing offenses of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud and money laundering," the newspaper reported.

The affidavit states that Jackson began depositing thousands of dollars into banks and buying properties around May 1999, two months after his debts were wiped away in federal bankruptcy court.

Jackson served prison time on a cocaine-trafficking conviction, and after his release in 1993, he reported an average income of $7,859 for five years on state tax returns, the affidavit said.

Records show as of April 2001, he had not filed state returns for 1999 or 2000, but claimed on a June 2000 car-lease application that he was earning $140,000 a year from two companies.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)