Chris Webber’s dealings with the law took an unexpected turn
yesterday, but not one that will land him in prison, at least for
now.

Janna Hutz
Webber

The former Michigan basketball star had his sentencing deferred
for about two years by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds instead ordered that, as a
provision for his bond, Webber volunteer at least 150 hours at a
six-week summer literacy program at Butzel Middle School in Detroit
for each of the next two summers.

“He’s excited about working with this program,” Webber’s
attorney, Steve Fishman, said yesterday by phone.

The Sacramento Kings forward pleaded guilty to criminal contempt
in July following accusations that he and his father, Mayce Webber
Jr., lied to a grand jury about accepting money from ex-booster Ed
Martin.

“I believe that Mr. Webber understands the seriousness of his
offense, that he is remorseful,” Edmunds said at a hearing
yesterday. She said she is unsure whether or not she would treat
Webber’s plea as a felony or a misdemeanor.

Webber’s sentence will now not likely be handed down until
August or September of 2005. But Fishman said that the all-star
forward is not upset about any lack of resolution to the case.

“It’s basically resolved,” Fishman said. “There’s no frustration
at all.”

In 2002, Martin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money.
At that time, he confessed that he gave $616,000, from gambling
funds and other money, to four former Michigan basketball players:
Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock. According
to Martin, Webber was paid $280,000 of that sum. Martin passed away
from natural causes on Feb. 14 at age 69.

Yesterday, Webber said he still has a strong emotional
connection to the University.

“My heart bleeds maize and blue,” Webber said. “They were the
happiest days of my life.”

Michigan banned itself from the 2003 postseason as a result of
the scandal. It also forfeited 112 games from the time that the
four were enrolled at the school.

Last spring, the NCAA ruled the Wolverines ineligible for the
2004 postseason also. They will forfeit one scholarship each year
for the next four years and will remain on probation for that time.
Michigan must also dissociate itself from the four players for a
10-year period.

Fishman said that the deferring of a sentence does not happen
often. “It’s a very unusual (decision), but this is an unusual
case,” he said.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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