CVP EXCLUSIVE: It took less than a month after spending nearly five months behind bars for onetime Englewood basketball phenom turned career criminal Sean Banks to go back to the Bergen County yet again.
Banks, who has a history of domestic violence, burglary and drug offenses, was wanted on a warrant for a Saturday assault — committed while on probation — and driving while on the suspended list when authorities said he backed a car into a Fort Lee police cruiser yesterday and then tried taking off.
A Superior Court judge set $50,000 bail for the probation violation, in addition to the $5,000 from the Teaneck charges of domestic assault and weapons possession.
This marks 15 or so times that Banks has been arrested and booked into the Bergen County Jail in the past 18 months.
At times, the 30-year-old onetime Bergen Catholic star has ducked police before being caught. He cut deals and posted bail — all while outstanding charges and restraining order violations continued to pile up.
A year ago Banks was charged with assaulting police.
Four months later, he was named in an indictment charging him and nine other people with using an Englewood flophouse as a gambling den and marijuana stash house.
Two months after that, Banks pleaded guilty to a Jan. 15, 2013 incident in which prosecutors said he assaulted his ex-girlfriend with a broomstick and belt, then restrained her from leaving.
The plea was marked by late appearances, no appearances, adjournments and bench warrants for Banks, who was arrested several other times by police in Bergen and Sussex counties while it was pending.
Superior Court Judge James J. Guida approved the deal, under which Banks got three years of probation and counseling through Alternatives to Domestic Violence, after he insisted that he was trying to turn his life around.
Less than a month later, police said, Banks tried to break down his ex-girlfriend’s door while under a restraining order.
Banks is still facing charges out of Englewood for burglarizing the same woman’s home and then slashing her car tires when she told him to leave.
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.
After the Hornets waived him, Banks played in Puerto Rico and with other U.S. developmental teams. He became 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 seven 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 a decade ago, scoring 17.4 points per game and grabbing 6.5 rebounds for a major college program.
But things went sour after he couldn’t meet the academic requirements and left school.
Banks’s criminal history began with charges of drunk driving, speeding and driving without license before he was arrested in the gang-related marking of a girl with a cigarette.
Things got worse fast.
Banks was in an SUV that took off after being stopped for speeding in August 2011 a short time after a pair of burglaries at homes in Sparta and Jefferson Township in Sussex County.
The vehicle flipped during the high-speed chase, trapping Banks and members of an offshoot of the infamous James Bond Gang burglary ring. Police recovered more than $20,000 worth of stolen goods from inside the SUV.
FILE PHOTOS (top): CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
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