Ex-UNLV star pleads guilty to embezzlement

Mark Wade owned up to the mistake. Now he’s hoping to move on with his life.

The former UNLV star point guard pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling more than $15,000 from the UC Riverside basketball program while he was an assistant coach in the 2006-07 season.

Wade said he couldn’t comment on the case right now.

“When this is all over, I’ll tell my side of the story,” he said Wednesday. “Did I do something wrong? Definitely. I committed a crime, and I’m sorry. But there’s more to this. Once I get this behind me, I’ll talk about it.”

Wade, 42, will be sentenced May 14 in Riverside (Calif.) County Superior Court on one count of felony embezzlement. He was accused of depositing two university checks and an electronic fund transfer into his personal bank account. Some of the money was to be used to cover team expenses for trips in 2006, but school officials became suspicious when he didn’t make a trip with the team during Christmas break.

Along with the checks, valued at $5,963 and $2,430, and the electronic fund transfer, worth $2,016, there was a travel advance he received in November of $1,548 and a past due balance of $3,868.40 on his school-issued UC Riverside credit card.

The crime is classified as a felony in California because it involved more than $400. Judge Thomas Cahraman could give Wade as little as probation and community service to as much as three years in state prison. He probably will have to make restitution to the university regardless.

“I’m just looking forward to May 14 so I can move on with my life,” he said.

Wade played at UNLV from 1985 to 1987 and was a key member of the 1987 Final Four team that included Armon Gilliam, Freddie Banks and Gerald Paddio. In the national semifinals against Indiana, Wade set an NCAA record with 18 assists. He is the school’s single-season assists leader with 406 in 1986-87 and is fourth on the career list with 689.

After graduating from UNLV, Wade bounced around basketball’s minor leagues. He also played briefly in the NBA with Golden State in 1988 and Dallas in 1990.

In 1995, Wade went into coaching, taking an assistant’s job at Southampton (N.Y.) College, where another former Rebel, Sidney Green, was the head coach. Wade also worked as an assistant under Green at Florida Atlantic before joining the staff at St. Bonaventure.

He joined UC Riverside’s staff in April 2005.

UC Riverside athletic director Stan Morrison said school attorneys told him not to comment on the case because it’s still active. “I’m not allowed to talk about it, but it’s a real shame,” he said.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2913.

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