Man Who Posed as Texas Student to Play Basketball Gets Prison TimeA former star athlete who posed as a teenager to play high school basketball in West Texas was sentenced to three years in prison after reaching a plea deal, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
By: Associated Press,
ODESSA, Texas (AP) — A former star athlete who posed as a teenager to play high school basketball in West Texas was sentenced to three years in prison after reaching a plea deal, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Guerdwich Montimere, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and three counts of tampering with government records, said Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland. Montimere, whose trial was to begin next week in Odessa, had faced up to 20 years in prison if concvicted on the original counts.
Officials say the naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti came to Odessa as a ninth-grader using the name Jerry Joseph. Montimere was 21 when he played one season at Odessa Permian High and helped lead the Panthers to the 2010 state playoffs. Permian's football team and backers inspired the book "Friday Night Lights."
A message left with a spokesman for Montimere's attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Suspicions were raised about Joseph after coaches from Florida at a post-season basketball tournament in Arkansas said they recognized him as Montimere, a 2007 graduate of a Florida high school.
Because he was living with Odessa basketball coach Danny Wright and not a parent or guardian, Montimere had to apply to the University Interscholastic League in Austin to play high school basketball. A waiver was granted and he was the star of the team.
Montimere was named the District 2-5A Newcomer of the Year, an honor that was stripped when his deception was exposed. The Panthers also forfeited their 16 wins.
Montimere was indicted last year on six felony charges, including sexual assault and tampering with government records. The indictment accused him of identity theft. The sexual assault counts accused him of having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Montimere must register as a sex offender, Bland said.
"He has to do this in any city he tries to live," he said. "To me this is justice considering what he did here. This will protect other towns from him doing what he did here."
Bland said the victim has wanted a plea deal for a long time.
"The victim's been through a lot because of the high-profile nature of this case," he said. "And I wanted to save her from going through the ordeal" of a trial.