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'Mad Max' Files For Bankruptcy


The civil trial of pro basketball player Vernon Maxwell, who is accused of knowingly giving a woman herpes, is on hold after the former Houston Rockets star filed for bankruptcy.

Maxwell, 33, who played for the Charlotte Hornets last season, filed bankruptcy papers in Atlanta on Thursday, one day before the herpes trial was set to begin here.

Under federal law, the plaintiff and all others seeking to collect from Maxwell must wait until the Georgia bankruptcy court rules on his case, something lawyers said could take years.

Sheila Rias, who claims Maxwell infected her during a brief relationship three years ago, is suing. Her attorney, Philip Bryant, only would say she is "disappointed his filing has prevented a trial."

The Associated Press was unable to reach Maxwell or his former lawyer, state Rep. Ron Wilson, who has repeatedly failed to answer phone messages left at his offices.

Earlier last week, wilson withdrew from the Maxwell case, citing the former millionaire's inability to pay him.

Maxwell's NBA salaries have averaged around $1 million since 1993-94. The hot-and-cold shooting guard known as "Mad Max" for his behavior both on and off the court made $1.54 million during the 1994-95 season.

But his bankruptcy petition indicates his affinity for fancy cars has left him strapped. His two biggest creditors are the lenders who financed his Ferrari and an auto leasing company in Philadelphia, where he played in 1995-96.

Maxwell, who served a 90-day jail sentence earlier this year for a 1995 marijuana conviction, was unable to pay court fines of $762 and $750 in May because of his financial problems, Wilson told state District Judge John Donovan.

Donovan ordered Maxwell to pay Ms. Rias $592,000 in February 1996 when Maxwell failed to respond to the suit. Maxwell received a new trial after claiming he had been served improperly, then received a third trial after another default judgment.

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