EXCLUSIVE: Former Englewood basketball phenom Sean Banks will get probation after pleading guilty yesterday in Hackensack to assaulting and restraining his girlfriend, although he’s facing enough charges in other cases in Bergen and elsewhere to put him in prison for several years.
Banks, 28, agreed to the guilty plea in return for a reduction in the six counts against him stemming from a Jan. 15 incident in which prosecutors said he assaulted his girlfriend with a broomstick and belt, then restrained her from leaving.
In exchange for probation, the onetime Bergen Catholic star pleaded guilty to fourth-degree aggravated assault, recklessly causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest — for running away and jumping a fence while police were chasing him.
Banks said yesterday that he ran because he was afraid of their guns.
Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi set a Jan. 10, 2014 sentencing date, by which time other charges against Banks might be resolved or under way.
He is still facing charges out of Englewood for breaking into the woman’s house and slashing her tires. Several other police agencies have obtained detainers on him for failing to show up for court on charges in their towns, as well.
Nearly two years ago, Banks was grabbed along with other members of an offshoot of the infamous James Bond Gang burglary ring following a high-speed chase and crash while being pursued by police after break-ins at homes in Sparta and Jefferson Township.
Additional charges were pending elsewhere, including in Wayne.
Less then two months ago, Banks scuffled with Englewood officers who were tipped off to his whereabouts.
Police said he’d burglarized the woman’s home, surprised her inside and began harassing her. When she told to leave, they said, he slashed her vehicle’s tires with a knife and took off.
The New Orleans Hornets signed the 6-foot-8-inch Banks as an undrafted rookie free agent in the summer of 2005 and assigned him to the team’s developmental affiliate in Tulsa after he averaged four points a game in pre-season and spend the first seven games of the NBA season on the inactive list.
After the Hornets waived him, Banks played in Puerto Rico and with other U.S. developmental teams. He’d become a father and had hopes of playing for Great Britain’s national team. His last hurrah was scoring 14 points in a D-League All-Star game six years ago.
The naturally gifted Banks wasn’t just any player coming out of Bergen County. At Memphis University, he was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2004, scoring 17.4 points per game and grabbing 6.5 rebounds for a major college program.
But things went sour after he left school, unable to meet the academic requirements. Banks’s criminal history began with charges of drunk driving and the gang-related marking of a girl with a cigarette.
Then it got worse.
Banks was in an SUV that took off after being stopped for speeding in August 2011 a short time after a pair of nearby burglaries. The vehicle flipped during the chase, trapping Banks and three other men with him inside. Inside the SUV, police said, they recovered more than $20,000 worth of stolen goods.
Since then, Banks has been arrested several times — including four times this year alone — and made bail each time.
He remains free on $50,000 bail in connection with the September incidents.
STORY: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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