Division I Men’s College Basketball Coaches Sentenced For Their Roles In Bribery Scheme
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that LAMONT EVANS, a former assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of South Carolina (“South Carolina”) and Oklahoma State University (“OSU”), and EMANUEL RICHARDSON, a/k/a “Book,” a former assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Arizona (“Arizona”), were each sentenced to three months in prison, and that ANTHONY BLAND, a/k/a “Tony,” a former assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Southern California (“USC”), was sentenced to a term of probation, each for accepting cash bribes from athlete advisers in exchange for using their influence over the student-athletes they coached to retain the services of the advisers paying the bribes. The defendants were sentenced this week in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Anthony Bland, Emanuel Richardson, and Lamont Evans, all former men’s basketball coaches at NCAA Division I universities, abused their positions as mentors and coaches for personal gain. They took bribes from unscrupulous agents and financial advisers to steer their players to those agents and advisers. For their crimes, Richardson and Evans will serve time in federal prison, while Bland will serve a sentence of probation. These convictions and sentencings send a strong message that bribery in the world of college basketball is a crime, and that those who participate in such crimes will be held accountable for their corrupt actions.”
According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, Indictment, Superseding Indictment, evidence presented during the trial, and statements made in Manhattan federal court:
Overview of the Scheme
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) have been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA. The investigation revealed that numerous basketball coaches at NCAA Division I universities, including EVANS, RICHARDSON, and BLAND, received bribes and agreed to receive bribes in exchange for agreeing to pressure and exert influence over student-athletes under their control to retain the services of the bribe payers, including Christian Dawkins, Merl Code, and Munish Sood, once the athletes entered the National Basketball Association (“NBA”).
Beginning in 2016, and continuing into September 2017, when EVANS was arrested, EVANS received approximately $22,000 in cash bribes from current and aspiring financial advisers and/or managers, including Dawkins and Sood, in exchange for EVANS’s agreement to exert his influence over certain student-athletes EVANS coached at South Carolina and OSU to retain the services of the bribe payers once those players entered the NBA. In one meeting recorded during the investigation, EVANS explained how “every guy I recruit and get is my personal kid,” and that “the parents believe in me and what I do . . . that’s why I say, if I need X, so if I do take X for that, it’s going to generate [business] toward you guys,” referring to the bribe payers. EVANS also stated in a call recorded during the investigation how this arrangement was “generating more wealth” for the scheme participants, because they were “able to scratch my back, scratch yours, and help each other with different things and . . . at the same time get compensated and then . . . just go from there.” In return for the cash bribes EVANS received, EVANS, including at in-person meetings, attempted to pressure a player at OSU, and a relative of a different player attending South Carolina, into retaining the financial services of the bribe payers.
Beginning in or around February 2017, and continuing into September 2017, when RICHARDSON was arrested, RICHARDSON received approximately $20,000 in cash bribes from Dawkins and Sood in exchange for RICHARDSON’s agreement to exert his influence over certain student-athletes RICHARDSON coached at Arizona to retain the services of Dawkins and Sood once those players entered the NBA. For example, in discussing his commitment to steering Arizona players to retain the bribe payers upon entering the NBA, RICHARDSON told an undercover FBI agent and others, during a recorded meeting, “I used to let kids talk to three or four guys, but I was like, why would you do that? You know that’s like taking a kid to a BMW dealer, a Benz dealer, and a Porsche dealer. They like them all . . . You have to pick for them.” In return for the cash bribes RICHARDSON received, RICHARDSON facilitated a meeting between the bribe payers, including Dawkins and Sood, and a relative of a player attending Arizona for the purpose of pressuring that player to retain the financial services of the bribe payers.
Beginning in or around July 2017, and continuing into September 2017, when BLAND was arrested, Dawkins paid a cash bribe to BLAND in exchange for BLAND’s agreement to exert his influence over certain student-athletes BLAND coached at USC, and to retain Dawkins’s and Sood’s business management and/or financial advisory services once those players entered the NBA. In particular, as BLAND told Dawkins and Sood during a recorded meeting, in return for their bribe payment, “I definitely can get the players. . . . And I can definitely mold the players and put them in the lap of you guys.” As part of the scheme, BLAND facilitated a meeting between Dawkins and Sood and a relative of a player attending USC, and a meeting between Dawkins and Sood and a relative of a USC recruit, both for the purpose of pressuring those players to retain the financial services of Dawkins and Sood.
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In addition to the prison sentences, Judge Ramos ordered LAMONT EVANS, 41, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, to pay forfeiture in the amount of $22,000, EMANUEL RICHARDSON, 46, of Tucson, Arizona, to pay forfeiture in the amount of $20,000, and ANTHONY BLAND, 39, of Gardena, California, to pay forfeiture in the amount of $4,100. Each of the three defendants was sentenced to two years of supervised release, and EVANS and BLAND were also each sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Christian Dawkins and Merl Code were each found guilty by a unanimous jury on May 8, 2019, of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Dawkins was also convicted of an additional count of bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for August 15, 2019, before Judge Ramos.
Munish Sood, a financial adviser, previously pled guilty, pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the Government, in connection with this scheme and is awaiting sentence.
Mr. Berman praised the work of the FBI and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert L. Boone, Noah Solowiejczyk, and Eli J. Mark are in charge of the prosecution.