A lawyer convicted of swindling NBA star Charles Barkley and utilizing the title of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to bolster an funding rip-off was sentenced to 5 years in jail Tuesday.

U.S. District Choose Karon O. Bowdre additionally ordered Donald Watkins to pay about $14 million in restitution.

Prosecutors had sought a jail sentence of 17½ years for Watkins and 6½ years for his son, Donald Watkins Jr. Each had been convicted on fraud and conspiracy prices earlier this 12 months. The 2 males stole greater than $15 million from buyers and a financial institution, prosecutors mentioned.

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Bowdre mentioned she took the elder man’s age, 70, into consideration in imposing a lighter sentence, however the time period was stiffer than the house confinement requested by Watkins.

The youthful Watkins was sentenced later Tuesday to 27 months in jail.

In the course of the pair’s trial earlier this 12 months, witnesses together with Barkley testified about dropping cash in an funding scheme run by the elder Watkins.

Barkley, who grew up close to Birmingham and now works as a tv analyst, described himself as a good friend of the elder Watkins, who has break up time residing in each Alabama and Atlanta.

Barkley misplaced greater than $6 million in investments and loans, prosecutors mentioned, and so did different skilled athletes together with former NFL gamers Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas and former NBA star Damon Stoudamire.

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Stoudamire’s spouse, Natasha Taylor-Stoudamire, spoke on the sentencing and mentioned she could not comprehend what Watkins had performed.

“I can not even comprehend how Donald Watkins Sr. and Jr. can take cash from me or the remainder the victims that had been making an attempt to have generational wealth for our kids’s youngsters,” she mentioned, in keeping with al.com .

Rice, a local of Birmingham, testified that Watkins wrongly used her title in selling an power enterprise on the coronary heart of the case. Prosecutors mentioned Watkins included Rice’s title in an e-mail to buyers though she had declined to become involved.

Watkins as soon as served as a metropolis council member in Montgomery and helped efficiently defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in an enormous fraud that just about bankrupted the corporate, now generally known as Embody Well being. He additionally has labored on civil rights instances.

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Greater than 15 years in the past, Watkins drew media consideration when he tried to buy a significant league baseball workforce. Extra not too long ago he mentioned he was trying to buy the NFL’s St. Louis Rams earlier than the workforce moved to Los Angeles.

Though he portrayed himself as rich, prosecutors mentioned Watkins had a web value of only some thousand {dollars}.

Writing in a weblog publish earlier than the sentencing, Watkins Sr. mentioned he would proceed to attraction his conviction and claimed he was harmless.

“Jurors attempt to do the best factor, as a rule. Nonetheless, my 46-years of lively participation within the American judicial system has proven me (and the world) that well-meaning jurors typically convict harmless defendants,” Watkins wrote.

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