Olympian Montgomery gets 46 months

May 16, 2008 11:26:16 AM PDT
Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery was sentenced to almost four years in prison Friday for his part in a fake-check scheme. Montgomery hung his head as Judge Kenneth Karas imposed the sentence of 46 months.

The 33-year-old former track star pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy in a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and money laundering plot. Prosecutors said he had a hand in depositing bogus checks worth $1.7 million.

Montgomery retired in 2005 after he was banned from track and field for doping.

He has a child with Marion Jones, the track superstar who is now in prison for lying about the check scam and about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"I've had everything I ever wanted in life. I've stood on the top of the mountain," Montgomery told the court. But now, "the gold medal, all those people cheering, that was part of another world. ... In jail, my status is gone."

The judge told him, "Being a track star does not somehow disable someone from saying no."

"I know this is a tough day for you. Think about those kids," the judge said in an apparent reference to Montgomery's four children. ... That's what's going to help you say no next time." After the sentencing, Montgomery nodded and smiled at his parents, siblings and a girlfriend.

"Tim has always made me proud of him. Like all sons, they do make mistakes," said Eddie Montgomery. He asked the court for leniency, saying the family would help Montgomery after his prison term.

"I love him; the family loves him, and we just want the best for him," said Montgomery's father.

Montgomery still faces drug-dealing charges in Virginia. In deciding on the prison term, the judge did not hold the new charges against Montgomery.

The check case also ensnared Montgomery's former coach, gold medalist Steve Riddick, and Jones' longtime agent, Charles Wells. Both pleaded guilty.

Montgomery won a silver medal in the 400 relay at the 1996 Olympics and a gold medal in the same event in 2000. In 2002, he set a world record of 9.78 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

The world record, and all his other performances after March 31, 2001, were wiped from the books, and he was banned from track for two years, for doping linked to the investigation of BALCO, the lab at the center of a steroid scandal in sports. Montgomery never tested positive for drugs and has said he never knowingly took any banned substances, but he retired after the ban was imposed.

In 2006, he was charged in the check scheme, which prosecutors said involved plans to deposit $5 million in stolen, altered or counterfeit checks over three years at several banks.

When Montgomery pleaded guilty in April 2007, he said, "I sincerely regret the role I played in this unfortunate episode. I have disappointed many people, and for that I am truly sorry."

But according to the Virginia indictment, Montgomery was dealing heroin four months later. He allegedly met four times with a confidential informant and sold a total of 111 grams of heroin for $8,450. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held pending a July trial in Norfolk.