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Guilty plea for Montgomery

Posted: Monday April 9, 2007 2:04PM; Updated: Monday April 9, 2007 8:21PM
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By TOM HAYS Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Olympic sprinter Tim Montgomery, once considered the fastest man on Earth until his world record was erased in the BALCO steroid scandal, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy in a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and money-laundering scheme.

"I sincerely regret the role I played in this unfortunate episode," Montgomery said in a statement following the plea. "I have disappointed many people, and for that I am truly sorry."

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Montgomery's plea deal "reflects his minor role" in an alleged conspiracy and does not require him to testify at the trial of his former coach, Steven Riddick, and other co-defendants, according to his lawyers. That trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Defense attorneys said Montgomery could be sentenced to 37 to 46 months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 1. The U.S. attorney's office had no immediate comment.

At Monday's hearing, prosecutor Danya Perry told the judge the government had ample evidence Montgomery conspired with others to deposit checks that he knew were counterfeit.

Montgomery, 32, was charged last year along with Riddick, and 11 others in an alleged conspiracy to deposit $5 million in stolen, altered or counterfeit checks at several banks over three years.

An alleged coconspirator, Ephraim Richardson, previously pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The government had accused Montgomery of participating in a plot created by two other defendants who set up sham businesses to take checks stolen from banks and alter them or make counterfeits.

Montgomery allegedly deposited three bogus checks worth a total of $775,000. He also was accused of helping Riddick deposit others worth at least $905,000 and accepting a $20,000 fee for his role. Riddick, a 1976 Olympic medalist, has maintained his innocence.

Montgomery was a 2000 Olympic gold medalist and a former 100-meter world record holder. He retired in 2005 after he was banned from track and field for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for doping linked to the investigation of BALCO, the lab at the center of a steroid scandal in sports.

Montgomery never tested positive for drugs, and has said he never knowingly took any banned substances.

All of Montgomery's performances after March 31, 2001, were wiped off the books, including his world record dash of 9.78 seconds in 2002. Montgomery won his gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the 2000 Olympics.

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