SOMERVILLE—Former NBA basketball player Jayson Williams was sentenced to five years in state prison today in the shooting death of limousine driver Costas “Gus” Christofi in 2002, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Taylor, Williams was sentenced to five years in prison, including 18 months of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman in Somerset County. The sentence was pursuant to the plea agreement Williams entered last month with the Division of Criminal Justice.
Williams pleaded guilty on Jan. 11 to a charge of aggravated assault by recklessly causing bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. That amended charge, which replaced the remaining reckless manslaughter charge in the indictment against Williams, carried a mandatory sentence of 18 months without possibility of parole as a gun offense under the state’s Graves Act.
In addition, Coleman ordered Williams to serve a concurrent sentence of five years in state prison on the four charges of which he was convicted at trial in 2004 related to his attempt to cover up the shooting.
Deputy Attorney General Steven B. Farman, who represented the Division of Criminal Justice at the sentencing hearing, recommended the five-year concurrent sentence under the plea agreement. Williams agreed not to appeal the trial convictions.
“With this sentence, Jayson Williams is being held accountable for his criminal recklessness in the death of Mr. Christofi and for his attempt to cover up the crime,” said Dow. “After eight years, Williams is finally going to prison for his senseless crime.”
Williams was convicted at trial of four of the eight charges in the indictment: tampering with a witness, tampering with evidence, fabricating evidence, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. He was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The jury did not reach a verdict on the reckless manslaughter charge.
The Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office handled the trial. The Attorney General’s Office superseded the case in October at the prosecutor’s request.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!