LeBron's Mentor Indicted On Mortgage Fraud Charges
By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - The father figure to high school basketball star LeBron James was indicted Thursday on mortgage fraud charges that could carry more than 10 years in prison, a county prosecutor said.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh issued indictments for James' mentor, Eddie Jackson Jr., and several of Jackson's associates on charges of forgery, tampering with records, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity in connection with a mortgage scam.
Walsh said that neither James nor his mother Gloria had any involvement in the alleged scam.
"He may have a close personal relationship with one of the defendants, but he is not involved in this scam," she said of James. "He has not been investigated and he has no relationship whatsoever in this case."
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.
Gloria James has described Jackson as LeBron's father, saying the boy's biological father has never been involved in his life.
Walsh said Jackson had 14 properties appraised through a mortgage brokerage, resulting in inflated sale prices.
She said most of the properties have since been foreclosed upon, and two financial institutions have suffered approximately $100,000 in losses.
Brad Gessner, an assistant prosecutor who will present the case, said Jackson is the focal point of the investigation.
"Eddie Jackson was, in this case, basically the mastermind. He recruited the other individuals to be involved in this, and he instructed them in how to do this," Gessner said.
Walsh could not give a firm estimate of how much prison time would be associated with the charges against Jackson, but said it is "a potentially substantial amount." The corrupt activity charge alone carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, Walsh said.
Jackson's lawyer, Angelo Lonardo, declined a to comment on the case.
Jackson and the four other people indicted -- Demetri L. Ingol, Carmen J. Green, Lamar Baddley and Angela Atkinson -- will be arraigned in Akron Municipal Court on Friday.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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