Ex-NBA star promising to repay Vegas casino debt
November 30, 2009
LAS VEGAS – Former NBA all-star Antoine Walker has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle bad check charges with three Las Vegas casinos and avoid trial on felony criminal charges, a defense lawyer and prosecutor said Monday.
Walker, who played in last summer’s American Century Championship in Stateline, wasn’t in court when his attorney, Jonathan Powell, described a plan for his client to pay a minimum of almost $13,000 a month over five years to settle a complaint stemming from casino debts at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort.
Powell on Monday described his 33-year-old, 6-foot-9 client as unemployed, but said he hopes to sign with a team in the U.S. or Europe. If he does, Walker promises to increase payments to almost $21,400 per month and finish the repayment plan within three years.
“This matter’s been negotiated,” Powell told the judge.
Restitution and penalties would total $905,050, including the forfeiture of $135,000 cash bail posted following Walker’s arrest in July at a Lake Tahoe hotel.
“This is a win for the defendant, he avoids a felony conviction, and it’s a win for the community because the victim gets paid the restitution,” prosecutor Bernie Zadrowski said outside court.
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Of the $770,050 to be paid, the Clark County district attorney’s office will collect $90,550 in fees and surcharges, Zadrowski added.
Walker never entered a plea in the case, which was filed last July. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson agreed Monday not to order him to stand trial in state court on three felony bad check charges, each carrying a possible one- to four-year prison term.
But the judge also scheduled a June 1 hearing to make sure he makes payments, and warned Powell that if Walker falls behind, he could face criminal action.
“I can tell you at the point he stops making payments, I will bind him up so fast it’ll make your head spin,” Andress-Tobiasson said.
The case stemmed from $1 million in casino markers, or promises to pay, that Walker racked up between July 2008 and January 2009. In Nevada, unpaid markers are treated as bad checks and can be turned over to the district attorney for prosecution. Zadrowski, chief of the Clark County district attorney’s office bad check unit, said Walker repaid $178,000 before charges were filed.
Walker was a three-time all-star with the Boston Celtics and won a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. He was a starting forward on Kentucky’s 1996 national title team, and played for Dallas and Atlanta before ending his 12-year NBA career in 2008 with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Powell said Walker splits time between Miami and Chicago.