Ex-UK player Minniefield enters diversion agreement in fraud case

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJune 26, 2012 

1981 Herald-Leader file photo. UK team huddle, from left, Chuck Verderber, Melvin Turpin, Fred Cowan, Dirk Minniefield (10) and Derrick Hord during UK's defeat of Auburn, 102-74, in Rupp Arena Feb. 4, 1981. Photo by David Perry | Staff

Former University of Kentucky basketball player Dirk Minniefield has entered a federal pretrial diversion agreement stemming from 2008 conspiracy and wire fraud charges in an alleged mortgage scheme in Texas.

His trial, which had been scheduled for next Monday, was canceled after Judge Melinda Harmon was told about the agreement Friday at a pretrial conference in U.S. District Court in Houston, according to court records.

Court records don't provide details of the diversion agreement.

Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Southern District of Texas, said she could not provide further details.

Minniefield's attorney, Steven Rocket Rosen of Houston, said Tuesday that he and Minniefield, 51, had been in negotiations with prosecutors for 1½ years.

"It's a deal between the prosecutors and myself and Dirk," Rosen said. "We did talk in regard to his culpability, and I don't believe the United States government felt that he had ... the want, the desire to cheat, " Rosen said.

He said that the judge signed off on the pretrial diversion and that the charges would be dismissed if Minniefield fulfilled his obligation, which probably would include community service.

The 2008 indictment said that in Houston, where Minniefield was a real estate agent, he allegedly represented buyers in transactions even though he never met them and they never asked to look at the properties they supposedly were buying. Minniefield was accused of proposing language in the sales contract to increase the price of the properties to include payment for renovations even though neither the buyer nor the seller hired a contractor for home improvements. The scheme involved about $10 million in mortgage loans from November 2004 to May 2005, according to the indictment.

Rosen said his client was not guilty of the allegations.

"What Dirk Minniefield was guilty of was being negligent," Rosen said, and he "was probably being too loyal to people and got caught up with something he shouldn't have got caught up with."

"He just really wasn't part of the planning and the design of the mortgage fraud," Rosen said.

Minniefield is scheduled to return to court Jan. 18, 2014, for a conference on the status of the case, records show

One other co-defendant also was given pretrial diversion. Another was sentenced to five years in prison. A third has pleaded guilty but has not been sentenced, court records show.

Minniefield 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. He went on to play professionally for four teams, including the Boston Celtics.

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

In 2007, he told the Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton that he had been free from drug problems for 15 years.

Minniefield is a program assistant for the NBA/NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) Anti-Drug Program, NBA spokesman Michael Bass said.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409.Twitter: @vhspears.

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