Ex-UK player indicted in Texas

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comDecember 11, 2008 

Former University of Kentucky basketball player Dirk Minniefield has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in an alleged mortgage scheme in Houston.

About $10 million in mortgage loans were involved in the case, according to a federal indictment issued by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of Texas. The alleged actions took place between November 2004 and May 2005.

Minniefield, now 47, was the leader of the 1979 Lafayette High School team that won the boys' state basketball championship and was Mr. Basketball that year. He was one of the country's most recruited players when he chose to stay at home and play for UK, and he went on to play professionally for the Boston Celtics.

In the case in Houston, where he currently lives, he was a real estate agent who allegedly represented buyers in transactions even though he never met them and they never asked to look at the properties they were supposedly buying, according to the indictment. Minniefield would contact the sellers' agents and propose language in the sales contract to increase the price of the properties to include a substantial payment for renovations to properties. Those renovations were never made.

Minniefield is also listed on the incorporation documents for a home improvement company that received disbursements for the work that was never performed.

A U.S. Marshal's official in Houston said Minniefield had been released from custody on $100,000 bond. Reached by telephone Wednesday, Minniefield declined to comment.

His attorney, Steven Rocket Rosen of Houston, also declined to provide details about the case. Rosen said Minniefield would be arraigned Friday in Houston.

Minniefield and three other defendant s, including Marc Jason Williams of Fort Campbell, Ky., could face up to 20 years in prison on each of eight counts of wire fraud and five years on one count of conspiracy.

Jock Sutherland, who was Minniefield's coach at Lafayette, said Minniefield didn't mention any problems when they last spoke two months ago and he hopes the indictment is a mistake.

"He's very important to me in my life," Sutherland said. "He's a tremendous young man, an excellent family man."

According to the indictment, Grant William Gondrezick of Benton Harbor, Mich., and Tiffany Blake Brooks of Houston recruited and paid people to act as borrowers in home mortgage applications even though they had no intention of living in the homes or making mortgage payments.

Gondrezick and Brooks would give Minniefield the names of the borrowers and he would represent them as a real estate agent even though he hadn't met them or seen the properties, the indictment said.

Minniefield and Gon drezick later found tenants to reside in the homes purchased with the fraudulently obtained mortgage loans and used the rent payments to make payments to the lenders, according to the indictment.

UK basketball record

A dynamic 6-foot-3 point guard, Minniefield was part of a celebrated recruiting class of Joe B. Hall's that included Sam Bowie, Derrick Hord and Charles Hurt.

A four-year starter at UK, Minniefield scored 1,069 points in his career.

He excelled as a distributor of the basketball, dishing out 646 assists over his four-year career. That remains the all-time career record for a Kentucky men's basketball player.

After his UK career ended, Minniefield played parts of three seasons in the NBA for four teams.

In a 2007 interview with the Herald-Leader, Minniefield acknowledged smoking marijuana at age 14 and regularly carrying a small bottle of cocaine as a UK player.

In 1991, he served a one-year jail sentence in Lexington for writing bad checks and then violating the terms of his probation.

In 2007, he told the Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton that he had been drug-free for 15 years and was a changed man. At that time, Minniefield managed after-care treatment for NBA players as the league's Employee Assistance Professional.

In the 2007 interview, he said he was married, had eight grandchildren, and was regretful that he had let his drug use affect his basketball career.

"Here's the greatest crime I ever committed," Minniefield said in 2007. "I'll never know how good (a player) I could have been."

Herald-Leader reporter Mark Story and news researcher Lu-Ann Farrar contributed to this article. Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409.

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