Two more charged in agents probe

Two more people have been charged with violating North Carolina’s agent law by providing benefits to Tar Heels football players in 2010.

Willie James Barley Jr. and Michael Wayne Johnson Jr. are charged with helping Georgia-based agent Terry Watson try to sign Robert Quinn and Greg Little, both now in the NFL, in violation of the law.

Barley, 29, of North Chesterfield, Va., faces four charges of athlete agent inducement by providing Quinn with benefits of $1,525.74 for a trip the eventual NFL first-round draft pick took to Miami in May 2010. That included $750 to purchase two roundtrip airline tickets, a hotel room valued at $675.74 and $100 in cash in addition to the use of a car for two days, according to unsealed grand jury indictments.

Barley, who was arrested Friday and released on $30,000 bond, is listed on the arrest order as an employee of Watson. Watson is one of five people now charged in the case that began with an NCAA investigation in summer 2010 and led to a separate probe by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office.

The 25-year-old Johnson, a friend of Little’s, faces three inducement charges, including providing a location for Watson to meet with Little and provide him with $5,000 in May 2010. He also twice provided Watson a location to send a package containing $100 in May and June of that year, according to indictments unsealed Wednesday.

Johnson was the starting quarterback at North Carolina Central at the time of the offenses. He is scheduled for his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

The grand jury returned indictments against five people when it met Sept. 30, though those indictments were immediately sealed until each person was arrested and made a first court appearance. Former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley Thompson was the first to appear on Oct. 3 on four counts of providing benefits to Little to help Watson sign the former Tar Heels receiver, now with the Cleveland Browns.

Thompson paid for airline tickets for Little and Johnson to go to Miami in May 2010, with Little telling investigators he reimbursed Thompson with money provided by Watson, according to a probable cause affidavit in a June search warrant.

Watson was charged with 13 counts of providing cash or travel accommodations to Little, Quinn and Marvin Austin valued at nearly $24,000. He also faces one count of obstruction of justice for not providing records sought by authorities.

Patrick Mitchell Jones, of Cartersville, Ga., is also charged in the case. Described as Watson’s friend in the June search warrant, Jones is charged with providing $725 to Quinn and also appeared in court last month.

Quinn, Little and Austin were either dismissed from the UNC team or declared permanently ineligible by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits and didn’t play a snap during the 2010 season. Quinn plays for the St. Louis Rams, while Austin was a second-round pick of the New York Giants in 2011 and also spent time with Miami and Dallas this season.

The state’s Uniform Athletes Agents Act requires agents to register with the Secretary of State’s office and is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts.

It is a Class I felony to violate the law, meaning a maximum prison sentence of 15 months, and violations also could carry civil penalties of up to $25,000. Prosecution of the law is left to district attorneys in the locations where violations are alleged to have occurred, putting the cases in Orange County where the university is located.