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22-year-old who posed as teen basketball player pleads guilty

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Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:00 am

Are you Guerdwich Montimer?” 70th District Court Judge Denn Whalen asked.

Yes, yes sir I am,” the man formerly known as Jerry Joseph answered softly.

The plea deal ended the more than year-long ordeal with the now 23-year-old Montimer pleading guilty Wednesday to two counts of sexual assault of a child and three counts of tampering with government records.

He was sentenced to three years in prison on each count. The sentences will run concurrently and he will get credit for time served – more than a year in the Ector County Detention Center.

Summary and timeline of events

Montimer admitting his real name is not Jerry Joseph ended the scandal that rocked Permian High School after it was discovered that he was not a 16-year-old basketball standout but rather an adult who wanted what some have called a “do-over” for a chance to play basketball in college.

He was accused of lying about his name and age to enroll at Nimitz Junior High and then Permian, in addition to having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who was also a student at Permian.

Montimer admitted to being the same man named in each of the indictments, and admitted guilt in each one. He had previously mostly denied being Montimer, mainly insisting he was a 16-year-old Haitian orphan.

He enrolled at Nimitz in February 2009 with the help of Jabari Caldwell, a former teammate at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and later began living with Permian basketball coach Danny Wright and his family. He told the Wrights and others, including the Odessa American, that he was a 15-year-old Haitian orphan.

His story unraveled when he was spotted by some of his previous coaches during an AAU basketball tournament in Arkansas. Those coaches contacted Permian and the Odessa American.

Admitting his guilt in court may end speculation in Odessa that he was really Jerry Joseph or that he had convinced himself he was Jerry Joseph.

“Mr. Montimer, are you pleading guilty to each of these charges because you are guilty and for no other reason?” Whalen said.

“Yes, sir,” Montimer said.

District Attorney Bobby Bland said he extended the deal at the behest of the victim of the sexual assault. In previous reports the girl told investigators she thought he was also 15 when she had sex with him. Without her consent he said a deal would not have happened.

Bland said because the sentencing range for Montimer included the possibility of probation, he thought three years in prison was a fair deal.

It was probably a little lighter than I would have wanted to give, but it’s what the victim wanted,” he said. “The main thing on this is he’s going to prison when he could have gotten probation. And the most just thing about this is that he’s going to be a convicted sex offender and he has to register wherever he goes.

He will never be able to do this again.”

Bland said Montimer previously admitted a few times that he was not Joseph, including when he was confronted with fingerprints, but he backtracked each time.

Montimer had to admit to who he was in court Wednesday.

“Today, he had to go into court and acknowledge who he was,” Bland said. “And to me, that was very satisfactory. I enjoyed watching him have to acknowledge in a court of law that he was Guerdwich Montimer.”

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed a fourth count of tampering with government records.

Jimmie Wright, Danny Wright’s wife, was in court Wednesday, and said she is still Montimer’s mother despite what evidence tells, and said the plea deal does not change how she views her son, who was brought in by the family when he came to Odessa.

I feel like he was trying to survive the only way he knew how,” Jimmie Wright said. “In court, he’s still just trying to survive. He’s called Jerry, he still goes by Jerry, and he’ll always go by Jerry.”

Jimmie Wright was visibly upset when the defendant admitted he was Montimer several times as each charge was read against him.

She also said she spoke with Jeannine Manikisse Montimer, who claimed in a GQ story about Guerdwich Montimer that she was his mother and had not seen him in years. Despite his initial claims of being an orphan, Jeannine Montimer said in the GQ story that he lived a normal childhood.

Wright said Jeannine Montimer gave the impression she did not care whether Guerdwich Montimer was her son.

Wright’s daughter, Rebecca Krumnow, also was at the plea hearing and said she didn’t think he had much of a choice and would have been found guilty if he went to trial.

Krumnow said she felt everyone else but the family was against him and he wouldn’t have gotten a fair trial.

“I feel sad for him because I know it hurt him to say he was guilty of these things,” she said. “That is my little brother, no matter what anybody says.”

@OAcourts

Odessa, TX

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