Ex-NBA player Washington sentenced to 6 years in prison

Former NBA player Kermit Washington has received a six-year federal prison sentence for using thousands of dollars earmarked for an African charity he organized for personal uses.

Washington, 66, diverted the funds to his own account to pay for personal extravagances, such as shopping sprees, vacations and plastic surgery for his girlfriend.

He pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., in November to charges of aggravated identity theft and making a false statement in a tax return.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Washington also must pay restitution of nearly $970,000.

Washington was a 6-foot-8 power forward from American University, selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 5 overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft. He played for five teams before retiring in 1987.

Washington is best remembered for knocking Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets unconscious with a punch to the face in a game in 1977. Playing for the Lakers at the time, Washington was fined $10,000 and suspended for 60 days, resulting in him missing 26 games.

Tomjanovich’s injuries were so severe that his career ended prematurely. He eventually went on to coach both the Lakers and Rockets.