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Webber faces additional federal charges

DETROIT (AP) _ Chris Webber faces additional charges on accusations he lied to a grand jury about his dealings with a Michigan basketball booster.

The new indictment Friday charges the Sacramento Kings' star, his father Mayce Webber Jr. and aunt Charlene Johnson with nine counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury.

They are accused of lying to a federal grand jury about their dealings with ex-booster Eddie Martin.

Martin says he gave $616,000 to Webber and three other Wolverines players while they were amateurs. Martin, who pleaded guilty to illegal gambling, said he gave Webber and his family $280,000. Webber denies taking all but pocket money from Martin.

Webber has said he was misled by Martin who ``befriended kids like myself, preying on our naivete.''

The player was indicted Sept. 9. He said a few days later he would ``fight this case to the end, and I feel that I will be vindicated.''

Defense attorney Steven Fishman had no immediate comment Friday because he had just learned about the indictment.

Friday's indictment supersedes the four-count indictment in September against Webber, his father and his aunt. It contends they conspired to conceal the cash, checks, clothing, jewelry and other benefits provided to the player and his family by Martin from 1988-93.

The Webber family's trial has been set for July 8. The maximum penalty on each charge is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Webber told the grand jury in August 2000 that he took money from Martin in high school, but could not remember if he took money in college. His father testified before the grand jury two months earlier.

On Nov. 7, the university punished its men's basketball program for the NCAA rule violations linked to Martin. It said it would prohibit the team from playing in the two college tournaments after the season.

The Wolverines forfeited 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons, plus its victory in the 1992 semifinals. Michigan, which has won 10 straight games, leads the Big Ten.

Webber has described Martin, a former auto worker, as a predatory fan who placed unwanted attention on promising athletes. Webber played at Detroit Country Day High School before attending college for two years in Ann Arbor.

Webber is in the second season of his seven-year, $123 million contract _ the second-largest deal in NBA history when he signed it last summer.

Martin pleaded guilty last May to conspiracy to launder money, admitting he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent it to several players while they were still amateurs.

Martin said his payments also included $160,000 to Robert Traylor of the New Orleans Hornets, $105,000 to Maurice Taylor of the Houston Rockets and $71,000 to Louis Bullock, who has been playing professionally in Europe.
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