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Permian player is impostor - Odessa American: News

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Permian player is impostor

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:00 am

Guerdwich Montimere was released from the Ector County Detention Center at 2:45 a.m. after an unknown person paid $115 to meet his $500 bond.

Original story

Guerdwich Montimere, a 22-year-old naturalized citizen from Haiti, was arrested Tuesday for posing as a 16-year-old sophomore named Jerry Joseph and attending Permian High School.

After being confronted Tuesday, Montimere, a star basketball player this year at Permian, admitted the deception and was arrested and charged with presenting false identification to a peace officer. Montimere was arrested at Permian and taken to the Ector County Detention Center. At press time he was in a holding cell awaiting booking.

“I feel like I was hit by a ton of bricks,” ECISD athletic director Leon Fuller said. “In my 50 years in education, I’ve never heard of anything like this.”

Montimere graduated from Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 2007 after leading Dillard to the Class 5A state semifinal basketball game. Montimere then moved to Freeport, Ill., where he had signed a scholarship to play basketball at Highland Community College.

After a few months, he dropped out and moved back to Florida, Highland basketball coach Pete Norman told USA Today last week.

No one heard from Montimere until he moved to Odessa under the name Jerry Joseph in February 2009. He enrolled at Nimitz Junior High as a 15-year-old, claiming he was living with his half-brother Jabari Caldwell. Caldwell — who is not actually related to Montimere — was enrolled at UTPB on a basketball scholarship. Caldwell and Montimere were teammates at Dillard High School.

Caldwell moved back to Florida in the summer of 2009, and Montimere moved in with Permian basketball coach Danny Wright.

“He was a family member and that is devastating to my family,” Wright said. “This affected a lot of people. The whole school of Permian embraced that kid. He deceived us and played on everyone involved’s emotions.

“He has been lying to everyone, my God, what is up with that?” Wright said.

Montimere played varsity basketball for the Panthers his sophomore season, which will likely result in the entire season being forfeited.

Permian principal Roy Garcia, who was at the forefront of the investigation, said he was glad the matter has been resolved. “I wanted the truth. Whatever the truth was, we had to get to it.

“I’m absolutely glad that it has been resolved. I feel sick, but now that we’ve gotten the truth, we can move on from here,” Garcia said.

Permian was tipped off, as was the Odessa American, about two weeks ago by sources from Florida who accused the Permian sophomore of being a 22-year-old former Florida player.

ICE initially cleared Montimere after failing to find any match to Jerry Joseph’s fingerprints. That ruling allowed Montimere to go back to Permian as an assumed 16-year-old last week.

But ICE found new evidence this week and was at the ECISD building Monday working on the case.

“In my opinion, the district, Coach Wright and everyone has handled everything the way we should have,” Fuller said. “ICE came in (Monday) and brought some information about a Florida driver’s license. It looks like it has been determined he is Guerdwich Montimere.”

Looking forward, Fuller said the district will try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“We need to work on ways of preventing this from ever happening again,” Fuller said. “It’s a difficult thing for Coach Wright and the players, and really, the entire community who had embraced (Montimere).”

Montimere spent part of last year at Nimitz Junior High as a freshman.

Nimitz Junior High School principal Stacy Jones said he was surprised to find out his former student was an impostor.

“I was surprised. I would never have guessed it,” Jones said, sounding stunned.

He said he didn’t know how he felt about it.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said.

Executive editor Laura Dennis, courts reporter Jim Mustian, cops reporter David Johnson, education reporter Dianna Wray, city reporter Geoffrey Folsom and sports reporter Joel A. Erickson contributed to this report.

CLICK HERE to read about Montimere duping Coach Danny Wright.

CLICK HERE to read about the fate of Permian basketball's 2009-'10 season.

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