Fighter, Boxing Promoter Convicted of Sports Bribery
Las Vegas, Nev. - A boxing promoter and fighter were convicted by a jury today of participating in a series of "fixed" fights from 1995 through August 2000 to enhance the boxing career of a professional heavyweight fighter, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
ROBERT MITCHELL, age 42, of Irmo, South Carolina, and THOMAS WILLIAMS, aka Top Dawg, age 35, of Landover, Maryland, were each convicted of one count of Conspiracy to Commit Sports Bribery and one count of Sports Bribery and Attempt to Commit Sports Bribery. Under federal statutes, they are facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. MITCHELL and WILLIAMS are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan on February 7, 2005, at 9:00 a.m.
"The public should be able to trust that professional sporting events have not been fixed," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "By returning guilty verdicts against both men, the jurors in Las Vegas have spoken that criminal conduct of this kind violates an important public trust in the integrity of sports."
According to the court records, beginning in March 1995, boxing promoter ROBERT MITCHELL, professional boxer THOMAS WILLIAMS, and other individuals involved in professional boxing entered into a scheme to promote boxer Richie Melito, Jr.'s professional boxing career by arranging for some of Melito, Jr.'s boxing opponents to accept bribes of money or other consideration in exchange for their agreement to intentionally lose to Melito, Jr. During trial, seven boxers admitted in their testimony to throwing fights with Melito, Jr. for money. Three boxing managers/matchmakers testified to working with MITCHELL and WILLIAMS to arrange fixed fights on behalf of Melito, Jr.
With the assistance of boxing promoter Robert Mittleman, defendant ROBERT MITCHELL arranged for defendant THOMAS "TOP DAWG" WILLIAMS to fight Richie "the Bull" Melito, Jr. on August 12, 2000, at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and to intentionally lose the fight in exchange for money. WILLIAMS lost to Melito, Jr. in the first round. Melito, Jr. and WILLIAMS fought on the undercard fight of the Evander Holyfield vs. John Ruiz heavyweight championship card promoted by Don King Productions.
Robert Mittleman, who testified on behalf of the Government at trial, pleaded guilty in April 2004 to Sports Bribery and Bribery of a Public Official. He testified that he arranged for THOMAS WILLIAMS to lose the August 12, 2000 fight against Richard Melito, Jr., and also arranged for WILLIAMS to lose a fight in Denmark in March 2000 against Brian Nielson. MITTLEMAN admitted in his plea agreement that he was paid $1,000 to arrange the "fix," between WILLIAMS and Melito, Jr. and that Williams received approximately $10,000 for losing the fight.
MITTLEMAN admitted in his guilty plea memorandum that on October 30, 2003, he tried to get the federal sports bribery charges against WILLIAMS dismissed by offering an undercover officer $15,000 to bribe an Assistant United States Attorney and United States District Judge. Mittleman is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2004, before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones.
The jury made sentencing findings that during the course of the conspiracy the total amount of the bribes was more than $70,000; that the total amount of the bribe for the August 12, 2000 fight was between $5,000 and $10,000; that MITCHELL was a supervisor and manager of a criminal activity that involved five or more participants; and that MITCHELL and WILLIAMS abused a position of public or private trust that significantly facilitated the commission and concealment of the offenses.
This case marks the first time that a defendant has been successfully prosecuted for fixing a fight in the State of Nevada.
Defendants WILLIAMS and MITCHELL are released on bond pending sentencing.
The case was investigated by Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eric Johnson and Kathleen Bliss.