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Ex-NFL player James awaits fate on tax evasion

| Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, 12:40 a.m.

A former professional football player who grew up in Brownsville is awaiting sentencing in a Philadelphia federal detention center since pleading guilty to failing to file federal income tax returns on approximately $9 million in earnings.

William James, also known as William James Peterson Jr., 32, was living in Woodland Park, N.J., in May when he entered the plea, according to court records.

James turned up in a New Jersey federal district court on Sept. 21 for what he thought was his sentencing date, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Bohdan Vitvitsky said on Friday.

Due to “some miscommunication,” Vitvitsky said, James had missed an earlier scheduled status conference.

James had failed several tests for marijuana use since his guilty plea and failed to meet with his probation officers in New Jersey for a presentencing evaluation, Vitvitsky said, violations of his bond conditions.

“The judge (U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle) issued a bench warrant. When he showed up last Friday ... he was arrested,” Vitvitsky said.

“Right now, the judge has postponed sentencing indefinitely, until probation can do what it needs to do,” he said, referring to preparation of a pre-sentencing investigation report.

“His lawyer said she will try to put together a bail package. The judge said in open court he was disinclined unless a responsible person could vouch for his next (court) appearance,” Vitvitsky said.

From 2001 to 2010, James played football for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers.

He earned about $9.2 million from 2005 through 2009, court records show.

James was “repeatedly advised” by his financial adviser and accountant that “he was obligated to file income tax returns,” according to records. He admitted he ignored requests to send the required information to prepare and file tax returns, according to court records.

James also ignored certified letters and personal visits from IRS employees to his home “to advise him of his tax obligations.”

He faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or at mpickels@tribweb.com.

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