Kermit Washington Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Charity Fraud


FILE - In this Dec. 25, 1979, file photo, Portland Trail Blazers'  Kermit Washington gains control of a loose ball during an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Portland, Ore. Washington, who notoriously gave a bone-breaking face punch to the Houston Rockets' Rudy Tomjanovich during a 1977 Lakers game, has been arrested by federal agents. Washington was arrested on a warrant Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in Los Angeles. Officials won't discuss the arrest, but they have set a news conference for Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)
Jack Smith/Associated Press

Former NBA power forward Kermit Washington was sentenced to six years in federal prison Monday after pleading guilty in November to making a false statement on a tax return and aggravated identity theft.

The Associated Press reported Washington, the fifth overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1973 draft, must also pay $970,000 in restitution after using charity donations to fund vacations, shopping sprees and plastic surgery for his girlfriend.

Washington played for the Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors in addition to his time with the Lakers during 10 seasons in the NBA.

The American University product's lasting legacy was punching Rudy Tomjanovich during an on-court fracas between the Lakers and Houston Rockets in 1977.

In 2005, Liz Robbins of the New York Times reported on Washington's work with Project Contact Africa, which he founded through his Sixth Man Foundation.

"I have never changed," Washington said about the lingering outside perception after the Tomjanovich punch. "People don't know who I am. I have good in me and bad in me. They see Kermit Washington. I see in Africa, those people don't have any chance. I am lucky."

Prosecutors in the case said Washington used his status as a National Basketball Players Association representative to refer players to lawyer Ronald Jack Mix, a Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman, who in turn donated $155,000 to the Sixth Man Foundation, according to the AP.

The report noted Washington admitted to using that money for personal expenses as part of his plea.

Mix pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2016 for the illegal $155,000 donation to Washington.

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