Olympic Sprinter Charged in Fraud Scheme

The Associated Press
Saturday, April 29, 2006; 4:49 AM

NEW YORK -- In the latest in a series of bad turns for Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery, the star sprinter was arrested on charges he was connected to a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and money laundering scheme.

A grand jury indictment unsealed in New York accused Montgomery, his gold medalist track coach, Steven Riddick, and 12 other people of being involved in a conspiracy that deposited $5 million in stolen, altered or counterfeit checks over three years.

Montgomery, the former 100-meter world record holder, surrendered to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Norfolk, Va., at about 8:30 a.m. Friday and spent the afternoon in custody.

He was released on $10,000 bond Friday evening. His attorney, Robert McFarland, did not return a telephone message.

According to the indictment, some of the money was laundered through two businesses owned by a New York couple accused of being behind the scam.

Investigators accused Montgomery of being a lesser player in a scheme hatched by lead defendants Douglas Shyne and Natasha Singh.

Shyne and Singh are accused of setting up sham businesses to take checks stolen from banks and either alter them or make counterfeit copies. Most of the checks involved accounts at large companies that didn't immediately notice the cash missing, federal agents said.

Montgomery, who the indictment said knew the Shyne and Singh family through an acquaintance, deposited three bogus checks worth a total of $775,000, prosecutors said. He is accused of helping his coach, Riddick, deposit others worth at least $905,000. Prosecutors said Montgomery picked up a $20,000 fee for his role.

The case has been unfolding for months. A first round of defendants were indicted in August. Riddick, a 1976 medalist, was arrested in February while attending a track meet in Arkansas and has been free on bail since.

His attorney, Bryan H. Hoss, said his client is innocent and does not know Shyne or Singh.

"Steve Riddick is an Olympic gold medal athlete who trains world-class sprinters, and he has no association with this New York crew," Hoss said.

He declined to elaborate on how the sprinter and coach, both of Virginia, came to be mixed up in the case, but said of Riddick, "He did not know that these checks were fraudulent, and we expect that proof to come out at a trial."

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