Former University of Southern California and Detroit Lions football star Johnnie Morton, Jr. faced up to five years in prison for repeatedly lying to a federal grand jury in 2009, but caught a break this morning in Santa Ana.
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney, a onetime football star himself at crosstown rival UCLA, displayed no preseason animus to Morton, who made a cameo appearance in Tom Cruise's Jerry Maguire.
Carney sentenced Morton, the 40-year-old first-round NFL pick in 1994, to a sentence of two years of probation and a $100 fine in the wake of a plea bargain.
Morton knowingly gave false testimony about his close ties to 32-year-old Irvine businessman Nick Chhorvann (AKA Neang Chhorvann), $2 million in transactions and a deal involving Titan Water System, according to court records.
Carney allowed Chhorvann--accused of making an unlawful money transaction--to get his passport back after his arrest and to travel to Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong in July 2011. Now, Chhorvann--born in 1979--is a fugitive who has not shown up to scheduled sentencing hearings inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Orange County. U.S. marshals are sure to someday locate him. When they do, he'll face 10 years in prison just for fleeing.
Morton, who lives in Redondo Beach, also played football for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
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The IRS criminal division participated with federal prosecutors in the money laundering investigation.