Student imposter faces six felony charges

Published 2:08 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ODESSA, Texas — A 22-year-old man accused of posing as a high school basketball star in West Texas has been indicted on six felony charges, including sexual assault and tampering with government records.

Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said Tuesday the indictment also alleges Guerdwich Montimer, who used the name Jerry Joseph, committed identity theft. Bland declined to discuss details of the identity theft count or comment on the case.

Montimer, who was indicted Monday, played basketball last year at Odessa Permian High School, whose football team and backers inspired the book “Friday Night Lights.”

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Montimer led the Panthers to the first round of the playoffs last season and was named the District 2-5A Newcomer of the Year. That honor was stripped in recent weeks, and the Panthers forfeited their 16 wins.

Mickey Gaines, speaking for Montimer’s court-appointed attorney, declined to comment.

Bland said the two counts of sexual assault pertain to alleged attacks on the same 15-year-old girl on one day in August.

Jabari A. Caldwell, who enrolled Montimer at a junior high school two years ago using a fake birth certificate from Haiti and claimed to be Montimer’s half brother, faces four felonies.

Montimer and Caldwell each face three counts of tampering with government records and one count of fraudulent use of identifying information. If convicted on the tampering charge, each man faces up to 20 years in prison. The identity theft charge, a state jail felony, carries a maximum punishment of two years.

If convicted of sexual assault, Montimer faces up to 20 years.

The two men are scheduled to be arraigned June 16 in Odessa.

Montimer remained in the Ector County Detention Center on a $75,000 bond Tuesday. An arrest warrant will be issued for Caldwell, Bland said.

Suspicions were raised a few months ago after coaches at an amateur basketball tournament said they recognized Joseph as Montimer, a 2007 graduate of a Florida high school and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti.

Montimer and Caldwell, 21, a former college player at Texas-Permian Basin in Odessa, were teammates at Dillard High School in Florida.

Because he was living with Odessa basketball coach Danny Wright and not a parent or guardian, Montimer had to apply to the University Interscholastic League in Austin to play high school basketball. A waiver was granted and he was the star of the team.