Former University of Kentucky basketball star Ed Davender was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday on numerous charges related to a UK basketball ticket scam in which victims lost tens of thousands of dollars.
"I hate it. I hate it. I hate it for Mr. Davender and his family," said Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael before sentencing Davender. The judge said he also hated how the situation had affected the UK community.
"I really, really hate it for the victims in this case," the judge said.
Ishmael said that he watched Davender play for UK and rooted for him, but he could not give him probation.
Davender, 44, of Georgetown will be eligible for parole after serving 20 percent of his sentence. He was taken into custody Friday afternoon.
Davender was indicted in Fayette County in November on 23 theft by deception counts in connection with the ticket scam and two drug-related charges. The majority of those counts were felonies.
But Davender accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to 20 charges, many of which were amended down. Five counts were dropped, including one of the drug-related charges.
The punishment the judge meted out actually totaled 25 years, but some of the sentences are to run consecutively and some are to run concurrently, with the total amount of prison time coming to eight years.
Davender pleaded guilty in Fayette Circuit Court in May to taking money unlawfully from 19 people in amounts ranging from $300 to $23,900 from May 2003 through August 2009.
Davender was accused of accepting money from people with the promise that he would get them UK basketball game tickets, but they never got the tickets.
Locally, about 25 victims have been identified. A number of people have declined to file charges against Davender, Assistant Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Cindy Rieker said.
While awaiting sentencing on the 20 counts in circuit court, Davender was charged with theft by deception for allegedly accepting $4,000 from a Louisville man between December and March for non-existent tickets to the 2010 Final Four.
Rieker said before Friday's sentencing that the court should consider that Davender, who was out on bond, had violated the terms of his release. She was referring to the case involving the Louisville man, which is pending in Fayette District Court.
Before Friday's sentencing, Davender was on probation in Fleming and Grant counties and in a diversion program in Harrison County for other convictions related to the ticket scam.
The amount of money involved in the Fayette Circuit Court case is $70,377, according to officials. Davender's attorney, Steve Romines of Louisville, said the total amount Davender has been accused of taking unlawfully comes to about $100,000.
"It kind of became a hole he got deeper and deeper in," Romines told Ishmael.
Romines asked the judge to give his client probation, noting that Davender had paid in full the restitution in the Grant and Fleming County cases and has not missed a restitution payment in Harrison County.
Romines also said that Davender has never failed a drug test since his ticket scam troubles began and has a job lined up.
"He can't be in a penitentiary and also pay restitution," Romines said.
Rieker said that Davender has been calling some of his victims and asking them for money to help pay his restitution. She asked that Davender tell authorities who he has been borrowing from so they can be made aware of what they are getting into.
"He continues to take advantage of people throughout this state," she said.
Romines said after court that friends and former teammates of Davender have been helping him with restitution.
"I do apologize to the people that I misled," Davender said before he was sentenced. "I'm ashamed and embarrassed."
He said he would like to be out of jail so he could repay his victims.
"I did have good intentions at first," he said.
"The judge was right in what he did," said Tom Gadd, who borrowed money to buy season tickets from Davender last year so his father, John Gadd, who was dying of cancer, could attend UK games in person for the first time in his life.
Tom Gadd said he lost $2,300 in the deal gone sour. His father, who died Dec. 13 at age 63, never got to go to a game, he said.
Tom Gadd said that Davender flaunted his status as a former UK player and indicated he was still connected to the university when he was offering tickets.
"This is not somebody who's going to stop. He deserves jail time," Gadd said before the sentencing.
Davender's sentencing was held up for several hours because Romines did not initially show up in court. Ishmael refused to postpone the hearing.
The judge called Romines' office on a speaker phone. A woman in Romines' office tried to put Ishmael on hold, but the judge refused to be put on hold. The woman told Ishmael that Romines was in another court and his office had tried earlier to get Davender's hearing postponed.
"Mr. Romines is supposed to be here, and I'm the judge, and Mr. Romines needs to be here," Ishmael said.
Ishmael said he would wait for Romines and told Davender not to leave the courthouse grounds.
The court Romines was in when his office got the judge's call is in an Illinois town near Paducah. Romines said later that he drove 100 mph to get to Lexington.
Davender played for UK from 1984 through 1988. He is 11th on UK's all-time men's scoring list, with 1,637 career points, and fourth in career steals, with 191. He played his first season under Coach Joe B. Hall and his final three under Eddie Sutton. He was chosen in the third round of the 1988 NBA draft by the Washington Bullets, but he never played in the pro league.
A former UK teammate, Derrick Millar, also has been in legal trouble recently in connection with a UK basketball ticket scam involving more than $40,000 in several Kentucky counties. Millar's name was spelled Miller during his playing days.
Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.