LeBron's Mentor Pleads Innocent

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - The father figure to high school basketball star LeBron James pleaded innocent to mortgage fraud charges Friday and was released on bond.

Eddie Jackson Jr. posted $5,000, or 10 percent of a $50,000 cash bond, after being arraigned before Summit County Magistrate John Shoemaker. A pretrial hearing was set for Wednesday.

Jackson, who has been involved in James' life as a mentor although he is not his father, was one of five people indicted Thursday on charges of forgery, tampering with records, money laundering and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

The corruption charge, the most serious of the charges, carries up to a 10-year sentence.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said James and his mother had no involvement in the alleged scam.

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

James, Ohio's Mr. Basketball the past two years, has 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.

Walsh said Jackson had 14 properties appraised through a mortgage brokerage he created, 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.

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