UConn drama: Villanueva testifies in fraud case against Tate George

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Former Husky Charlie Villanueva testified against former Husky Tate George on Tuesday. (USATSI)
Former Husky Charlie Villanueva testified against former Husky Tate George on Tuesday. (USATSI)

Tate George is the man responsible one of the most famous shots in Connecticut basketball history. Charlie Villanueva was one of the most coveted UConn recruits of the last decade. Now, the two former Jim Calhoun pupils are facing off in federal court, Villanueva testifying Tuesday against Tate in a federal fraud case.

According to a story in The Trentonian, George was "portrayed as a con man" in federal court. The 45-year-old is accused of scheming Villanueva out of quarter-million dollars, and although Villanueva is the high-profile alleged victim in the case, he wasn't the only one allegedly duped.

Specifically, here's what occurred and what was alleged in court on Tuesday, when Villanueva took the stand.

George didn't send a key letter to the home of Detroit Piston Charlie Villanueva in Rochester, Michigan, testimony revealed. The papers saying the pro baller's $250,000 could be used any way George wanted instead were mistakenly sent to Rochester, Minn.
Soft-spoken Villanueva took the stand and told the jury he invested the quarter-million with his fellow UConn alum for a George project called Seaview Plaza in troubled Bridgeport, Conn. It was 2010, Villanueva had just earned a $30 million contract with the Pistons and was looking for investment opportunities. He testified under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater that he liked the idea of investing in Bridgeport as a way of giving back to the community. Villanueva was promised the return of his $250,000, a profit of $37,500 and two percent on the gross for years to come; maybe more than $2 million. He never saw a dime.
After he testified that the loss of $250,000 “hurt” him, Villanueva told The Trentonian on the way out of the courthouse that it hurt him personally to be conned by a fellow UConn alum and athlete. “And it's $250,000! That could have gone to my son's education.”

Dramatic news, some that's naturally making waves in Connecticut, which is very receptive and welcoming to so many of its former famous college players. Bridgeport, by the way, is an underdeveloped, old city on the coast that's in need of rejuvenation.

George's case totals in $2 million for alleged wire-fraud charges, essentially being accused of running a ponzi scheme. More are expected to testify against George this week.

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