DETROIT – Ex-NBA player and Michigan State star Jay Vincent has been indicted for an Internet employment scam that bilked about 20,000 jobseekers out of about $2 million, the U.S. Attorney's office said Thursday.
The 51-year-old Vincent and 53-year-old Anthony Portee face charges of mail fraud, and Vincent is charged with an income tax violation, authorities said.
Both men live in Lansing.
Dallas drafted him with the first pick of the second round in 1981. He averaged 21.4 points per game his rookie season and spent five seasons with the Mavericks.
He later played for Washington, Denver, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers, ending his NBA career with Philadelphia in 1990.
Vincent is "a legitimate businessman" and is cooperating with investigators, his lawyer, Charles Ford, told The Associated Press.
"A person is innocent until proven guilty," said Ford, a longtime friend of Vincent. "This man is iconic in this area. This is a person who has given a lot to the community."
A number listed for Portee was disconnected. His lawyer, Raymond Buffmyer, did not immediately return a message.
The charges cover a period from Jan. 1, 2006 to Aug. 25, 2009 and involves the defendants' business Foreclosure Bank Inspection Co.
Vincent and Portee concocted a scheme to defraud people seeking work through their Foreclosure Bank Inspection Co., according to the indictment.
The company claimed to test, certify and employ people to inspect bank foreclosed homes, and advertised that the company had contracts and received large checks from major banks to do the work. In reality, the copies of contracts and checks used in the ads were altered or counterfeit, the indictment said.
The company also did not hire contractors to perform inspections. What it did do was charge $149 to provide liability insurance for each job applicant and $89 for background checks, according to the indictment.
False insurance policies were prepared in the company's offices and no background checks were made, the indictment said. Tests, completed and returned by applicants, were stored in boxes without reviews.
In the income tax charge, Vincent is accused of reporting a business income of $62,438 on his 2008 tax return. Authorities said the actual amount he earned was $330,269.
Associated Press reporter David N. Goodman contributed to this story.