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Phony Texas high school athlete sentenced

Associated Press / July 28, 2011

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ODESSA, Texas - A former star athlete who posed as a teenager to play high school sports in West Texas was sentenced to three years in prison as part of a plea deal, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Guerdwich Montimere, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and three counts of tampering with government records, said Ector District Attorney Bobby Bland. Montimere, whose trial was to begin next week in Odessa, had faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the original counts.

Officials say the naturalized US citizen from Haiti came to Odessa as a ninth-grader using the name Jerry Joseph. Montimere was 21 when he played one season of football at Odessa Permian High and helped lead the Panthers to the 2010 state playoffs. Permian’s football team and backers inspired the book “Friday Night Lights.’’

Because he was living with Odessa basketball coach Danny Wright and not a parent or guardian, Montimere had to apply to the University Interscholastic League in Austin to play high school basketball. A waiver was granted and he was the star of the team.

Suspicions were raised about Joseph after coaches from Florida at a postseason basketball tournament in Arkansas said they recognized him as Montimere, a 2007 graduate of a Florida high school.

The sexual assault charge stemmed from a relationship with a 15-year-old girl.

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