3 men get prison for role in FBI college basketball corruption case

by Samuel Abasi Posted on March 5th, 2019

New York City: U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sentenced former Adidas executive James “Jim” Gatto to nine months in prison and both former Adidas consultant Merl Code and former runner Christian Dawkins to six months in prison Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Five months after each defendant was found guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in the sprawling college basketball investigation, Kaplan delivered the sentences to a packed courtroom that included families of the three men.

The three-week trial ended October 24 with unanimous guilty verdicts. The proceedings were part of a larger FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball.

Prosecutors say coaches teamed up with the Adidas executive and others to trade hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to influence star athletes’ choice of schools, shoe sponsors, agents and even tailors.

All three men are appealing, and two of the defense attorneys, Steve Haney and Mark Moore, said after Tuesday’s hearing that the appeals process could take more than a year to reach a conclusion.

Gatto, Code and Dawkins will not serve any jail time until the appeals process is resolved.

The probation department had previously recommended a prison sentence of one year for Gatto and a sentence of eight months’ imprisonment for Code and Dawkins, and federal prosecutors pushed for even harsher punishments.

Code and Dawkins are scheduled to stand trial for more felony charges in April.

Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, former associate head coach Kenny Johnson and former assistant coach Jordan Fair were all fired by Louisville after the arrests were made in connection with the “pay-for-play” scheme, which included the three defendants paying the father of elite recruit Brian “Tugs” Bowen so the player would attend Louisville, an Adidas-sponsored school.

Pitino, Johnson and Fair weren’t charged in the case. Brian Bowen never played for Louisville.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said an independent enforcement body to adjudicate major infractions cases could be in place by August.

Kaplan said he sympathized with the argument that the defendants were being punished when others who did similar things were not being prosecuted. Nonetheless, he said, “These defendants all knew what they were doing was wrong.”

The judge added that he wanted to send “a great big warning light to the basketball world.”

“I deeply regret my actions,” Gatto said in a shaky voice.

Dawkins referenced “social dysfunction” in college basketball and said his actions were “clouded” by a “system that takes advantage of kids.”

“I realize now more than ever none of this was worth it,” Dawkins said.

Code said he also regretted his actions but added, “Some things really got to be changed about college basketball.”

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