Indictments returned in college hoops bribery scheme
NEW YORK (AP) Four college basketball assistant coaches charged in a bribery scheme were among eight people indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in New York City.
The charges and accusations in three indictments largely mirrored the facts found in criminal complaints filed against the men when they were arrested in late September. An indictment, though a procedural step, is a document prosecutors rely upon at trial.
Prosecutors said the men were accused of using bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors and agents. They face fraud and other charges that carry potential penalties upon conviction of decades in prison.
The assistant coaches charged were Chuck Person, 53, of Auburn, Emanuel ”Book” Richardson, 44, of Arizona, Tony Bland, 37, of Southern California and Lamont Evans, 40, of Oklahoma State. After their arrests, Person and Evans were suspended and Bland was placed on administrative leave. Richardson was suspended and is appealing the school’s effort to dismiss him.
The time to return an indictment was extended for a month for two defendants: Brad Augustine, the AAU program director who stepped down, and financial adviser Munish Sood.
Augustine was accused in a criminal complaint in September with brokering and facilitating corrupt payments in exchange for a promise from players to retain the services of Sood and a sports agent also charged in the case while Sood was described as paying bribes to the coaches.
In late October, prosecutors said in court papers that it was continuing discussions with lawyers for Sood and Augustine to bring about a possible disposition of the charges against them before indictment.
”Chuck Person did not commit a crime and we’re confident he will be vindicated at trial after a jury hears all the evidence,” attorney Theresa Trzaskoma said.
Attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said Bland was a hardworking and well-regarding assistant coach who was ”being scapegoated for all the ills of college basketball – all due to an alleged $13,000 payment.”
”No multi-millionaire head coach was charged, or any multi-billion dollar sneaker company after years of investigation. It’s not fair and anyone who knows anything about college basketball knows this to be true,” Lichtman added.
Craig Mordock, an attorney for Richardson, said ”this is really pushing the envelope of what constitutes a crime.”
He added: ”An indictment is another step in the process. But once again, Emanuel Richardson is not guilty.”
Lawyers for Evans, Sood and Augustine were unable to be reached for comment.