Romeo Travis pleads guilty to tax, wire fraud charges, agrees to repay $375K
Romeo Travis, a friend and former teammate of LeBron James who is now an assistant coach at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, must pay nearly $375,000 in restitution for cheating on his income taxes and faces an uncertain amount of time in prison.
Travis pleaded guilty last week to federal charges related to understating his income while playing basketball overseas along with misrepresenting his income before the Stark County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Travis, 38, pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States and wire fraud, filed in U.S. District Court on March 9.
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A plea agreement filed with the court Thursday stipulates Travis will pay just under $375,000 in restitution for the unpaid income taxes. He faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the first count, conspiracy to defraud, and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud charge.
Travis previously declined to comment and his attorney, Marisa Darden, did not return messages seeking comment.
Sentencing has been set for July 20 in U.S. District Court Judge Christopher A. Boyko's courtroom.
Travis, sports agent provided altered documents understating income
According to investigators, Travis and his sports agent, "Person 1" in the government's case, in 2013 started providing Travis' tax preparer with altered contracts with foreign basketball teams. The altered contracts made it appear he was paid less than he was actually paid by those teams.
It is not clear whether the sport agent has been charged with any crimes. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland said no further information was available.
Travis charged: St. Vincent-Mary basketball assistant coach Romeo Travis facing federal tax fraud charges
In the first year, Travis claimed his income for 2013 was $140,088, when he had actually earned more than $240,000.
For that year's return, Travis and his agent provided the tax preparer with an altered contract showing Travis had been paid $8,000 per month by a Croatian basketball team, when he had actually earned $16,000 per month.
He had also played for a Ukrainian basketball team during the 2013-14 season, earning $22,000 per month, but providing the tax preparer with a document stating his monthly earnings were $10,500.
Similar altered documents misstated what Travis was paid by basketball teams in France, Italy, Russia and the Phillippines, court records state.
In the settlement agreement, Travis agreed to pay $374,977 in unpaid taxes, plus interest, for the years 2013 through 2017.
Travis sought to lower child support payments
The wire fraud charge is related to the use of Travis' falsified tax documents and altered contracts to defraud the mother of one of his children out of child support payments overseen by the Stark County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
The government said Travis and his agent provided the agency with the fraudulent tax returns and altered contracts in 2016 and 2017 after the woman filed an appeal to have her child support payments increased.
Travis' 2015 tax return stated he had earned $85,880 that year, when he had actually been paid nearly $280,000, according to court records. After agreeing in April 2017 to make payments of $800 per month, Travis pleaded with the court almost a year later to have the payments reduced.
"I recently had my child support order adjusted to $800 per month while making $80,000 per year. I cannot afford to continue to pay $800 per month," Travis wrote in a letter to the court.
Will Travis remain at St. Vincent-St. Mary?
Travis starred at STVM as a member of two state championship teams in 2001 and 2003 with LeBron James and other members of the "Fab Five." He went on to play basketball at the University of Akron. His post-Zips career began in 2007 and he last played professionally in the 2020-21 season.
He served as an assistant coach for STVM and has been touted as the heir apparent to Dru Joyce II.
A message left with St. Vincent-St. Mary President Leo Hyland seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Eric Marotta can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarottaEric.
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This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Romeo Travis admits to evading taxes, future at STVM unknown