Tim Montgomery pleads guilty in fraud case

Olympic gold medallist Tim Montgomery pleaded guilty Monday in connection with a bank fraud and money laundering scheme.

Olympic gold medallist Tim Montgomery pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy in a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and money-laundering scheme, the former track star's lawyers said.

"I sincerely regret the role I played in this unfortunate episode," Montgomery said in a statement following the plea. "I have disappointed many people, and for that I am truly sorry."

Montgomery's plea deal "reflects his minor role" in an alleged conspiracy and does not require him to testify at the trial of his former coach, Steven Riddick, and other co-defendants, according to a statement from his lawyers. That trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

It was not clear if Montgomery would have to serve any prison time because of the guilty plea. The U.S. attorney's office had no comment.

Montgomery, 32, was charged last year along with Riddick and 11 others in an alleged conspiracy to deposit $5 million US in stolen, altered or counterfeit cheques at several banks over three years.

An alleged co-conspirator, Ephraim Richardson, previously pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

The government had accused Montgomery of participating in a plot created by two other defendants who set up sham businesses to take cheques stolen from banks and alter them or make counterfeits.

Montgomery allegedly deposited three bogus cheques worth a total of $775,000. He also was accused of helping Riddick deposit others worth at least $905,000 and accepting a $20,000 fee for his role. Riddick, a 1976 Olympic medallist, has maintained his innocence.

Montgomery was a 2000 Olympic gold medallist and a former 100-metre world record holder. He retired in 2005 after he was banned from track and field for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for doping linked to the investigation of BALCO, the lab at the centre of a steroid scandal in sports.

Montgomery never tested positive for drugs and has said he never knowingly took any banned substances.

Performances wiped off books

All of Montgomery's performances after March 31, 2001, were wiped off the books, including his world-record dash of 9.78 seconds in 2002. Montgomery won his gold medal in the 400-metre relay at the 2000 Olympics.

Montgomery has a child with one-time girlfriend and fellow 2000 gold medallist Marion Jones.

Joneswas named in court records in connection with a$25,000 US check drawn on an account of Nathaniel Alexander, one of the others charged.

She has not been charged in the case.