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Former Orange Damone Brown Pleads Guilty To Money Concealment Charge

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Back in February of 2009, things seemed to be going well for former Syracuse basketball player Damone Brown. The Big East 2nd-Teamer was selected by the 76ers in the 2nd round of the 2001 draft, Brown bounced around the league for a while, making stops in Toronto, New Jersey and Washington along the way. By now, his NBA days were behind him but he was still working at it, playing for the Reno Bighorns of the NBDL. He was even briefly united with Gerry McNamara and Donte Greene.

Then, the FBI showed up and arrested him.

[Damone Brown] was arrested in Reno Thursday morning and was scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court later Thursday on a felony count of money laundering.

Brown, 29, is accused of leasing a safe deposit box at a Buffalo bank for an alleged drug kingpin to store his drug proceeds in. Authorities seized $170,000 from the box before he was arrested.

The Bighorns released Brown so that he could focus on his "personal business" and all of a sudden the promising basketball pro was looking at 20 years in prison.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Brown is finally pleading guilty to the charge and his involvement with the notorious "31 Gang." The good news is that, instead of facing 20 years, Brown is now looking at no more than six months in prison when he is sentenced under the plea agreement.

Prosecutors charged Brown after FBI agents tapped his phone and heard him agree to open the safe-deposit box for Ross. McCabe said his office could not prove that Brown was part of the 31 Gang activities, but he was aware that the cash being put into his bank box stemmed from illegality. The money came from cocaine distribution, McCabe said, adding that the bank provided footage of him entering the safe-deposit area with large sums of cash.

"I regret what happened here," said Brown, wearing a stylish light gray suit. "I was just trying to help my sister. She asked me to help her out."

Brown is scheduled to report to his Mexican professional basketball team's training camp in August and the judge will allow him to leave the country and attend as he awaits sentencing. 

All signs point to Brown making a really dumb decision but not really being "one of the bad guys." Still, he's damn lucky to walk away from all of this with such a light sentencing possibility. Let's hope Damone's future is on the straight and narrow and make the next time we speak of him be in regards to hi Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional Championship.