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Former NBA Official Pleads Guilty

April 19, 2000

PHOENIX (AP) _ Darell Garretson, for years one of the most recognizable referees in the NBA and the league’s former supervisor of officials, pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a false income tax return.

Garretson’s plea was the latest in a series by NBA referees who were reimbursed for first-class airline tickets by the league, then purchased less expensive tickets and pocketed the difference.

Garretson, 68, who lives in nearby Mesa, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of fraud and false statement as part of a plea-bargain with the U.S. attorney’s office.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 26. Under the plea agreement, Garretson could receive probation or a maximum of 3 years in prison, said Cathy Colbert, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Garretson was an employee of the NBA for 29 years and was chief of staff of referees and supervisor of referees from 1981 through 1995.

Twelve other officials were charged with similar offenses. Eleven pleaded guilty. One, Steve Javy, was acquitted in a jury trial.

Federal prosecutors said Garretson made $54,531 in air fare reimbursements in 1992 and $25,130 in 1993. Garretson reported none of that income on his tax returns, prosecutors said. The tax loss was $21,238.

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