News and Press Releases

Boxing Promoter and Fighter Receive Prison Terms for Fixed Fights

February 22, 2005

Las Vegas, Nev. - A boxing promoter and professional boxer have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment for their jury convictions on sports bribery charges, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

ROBERT MITCHELL, age 42, of Irmo, South Carolina, was sentenced today to 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay a $6,000 fine. THOMAS WILLIAMS, aka Top Dawg, age 35, of Landover, Maryland, was sentenced on Friday, February 18, 2005, to 15 months imprisonment and ordered to serve 100 hours of community work service. U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan handed down the sentences against both defendants, which included prohibitions against engaging in boxing-related employment for three years, unless specifically approved by the United Sates Probation Office.

"These prosecutions mark the first time that defendants have been successfully prosecuted for fixing a boxing match in the State of Nevada," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "I hope the message is clear to everyone who works in the professional boxing industry, that if you are caught, charged and convicted of sports bribery and fixed fights, you will very likely go to prison for an extended period of time."

On November 8, 2004, following a three-week jury trial, promoter ROBERT MITCHELL and boxer THOMAS WILLIAMS were convicted of one count of Conspiracy to Commit Sports Bribery and one count of Sports Bribery and Attempt to Commit Sports Bribery for participating in a series of "fixed" fights from 1995 through August 2000 to enhance the boxing career of professional heavyweight fighter Richie "the Bull" Melito, Jr. A third individual, boxing promoter Robert Mittleman, pleaded guilty to two counts of Sports Bribery and one count of Bribery of a Public Official, and was sentenced on December 6, 2004, to three years probation and six months of home detention. His sentence was reduced in exchange for his cooperation and testimony at trial against MITCHELL and WILLIAMS. Mittleman's guilty plea included an admission that he arranged a fixed fight between Williams and Brian Nielson in Denmark in 2000 and that he attempted to bribe a federal prosecutor and United States District Judge to get the case against Williams dismissed.

The defendants and other individuals involved in professional boxing arranged for at least 11 of Richie Melito, Jr.'s opponents from 1995 through 2000 to accept bribes of money or other consideration in exchange for their agreement to intentionally lose to Melito, Jr. During trial, seven boxers testified that they threw fights with Melito, Jr. for money, and three boxing managers/matchmakers testified that they worked with MITCHELL and WILLIAMS to arrange fixed fights on behalf of Melito, Jr. Prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that a fight between WILLIAMS and Melito, Jr. on August 12, 2000 at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas was fixed. The fight was an undercard fight of the Evander Holyfield vs. John Ruiz heavyweight championship card promoted by Don King Productions. It was proven that the total amount of bribes MITCHELL arranged with boxers over the five-year life of the conspiracy was over $70,000, and the total amount of the bribe accepted by WILLIAMS to fix his fight against Melito, Jr. was $10,000.

MITCHELL received a greater sentence for being a supervisor and manager of a criminal activity involving five or more participants and for abusing a position of public or private trust that significantly facilitated the commission and concealment of the offenses. WILLIAMS received a greater sentence for abusing a position of public or private trust that significantly facilitated the commission and concealment of the offenses.

Both defendants were permitted 60 days to self-surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

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.

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