Chet Forte, Emmy Award-winning former producer of "Monday Night Football," pleaded guilty yesterday in Camden, N.J., to federal mail fraud and tax evasion charges. His attorney said obsessive gambling caused his legal problems.
Forte, 55, also pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of wire fraud. He admitted defrauding $100,000 from a New Jersey businessman.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez accepted the guilty pleas at a one-hour hearing and scheduled sentencing for Jan. 11. He faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and $27,000 in fines.
Forte remains free on $500,000 bail and declined to comment to reporters after the proceeding.
As part of the plea agreement, he will assist federal prosecutors in an investigation of Starkives Inc., a defunct New York computer video company for which he served on the board of directors. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to dismiss seven charges.
Public defender Lawrence Lustberg said Forte, who made "Monday Night Football" a national craze when he worked for ABC Sports, has been unable to find a job in the television industry since leaving ABC in 1987.
He said Forte's legal problems stem from compulsive gambling that began in the early 1960s. He bet both on sports and at casino gaming tables, the attorney said.
"Over the years, he lost about $4 million gambling," Lustberg told reporters. "It's a terribly tragic case."