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Judge not dropping charges in FBI hoops probe

From ESPN - February 15, 2018

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on Thursday denied a motion to dismiss federal criminal charges against three of the 10 men arrested for their alleged roles in the FBI's two-year investigation into college basketball corruption.

Attorneys representing former Adidas executives James Gatto and Merl Code and former sports agent Christian Dawkins argued in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday morning that what their clients are accused of doing -- allegedly funneling money from Adidas to the families of high-profile recruits to ensure that the players signed with Adidas-sponsored schools, and then Adidas and certain sports agents and financial planners once they turned pro -- does not constitute a federal crime.

Their attorneys also challenged the government's argument that the victims in the case are the universities where the players signed, because the players certified that they were eligible to play when they were not after they or their families accepted improper benefits.

Gatto, Code and Dawkins face one felony count each of wire fraud. The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 1.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York dropped federal charges against Jonathan Brad Augustine, a former AAU director in Orlando, Florida, who was accused of conspiring with the others to persuade two high school players to sign with Louisville and one with Miami.

"It's not surprising to me that the case has issues because it should have never been brought," said New York-based attorney Jeffrey Einhorn, who represents former USC assistant Tony Bland in a separate federal case related to the FBI probe. "Everything about this case stinks."

Regardless what happens with the criminal cases, sources with knowledge of the FBI investigation told ESPN this week that the clandestine probe could result in potential NCAA violations for as many as three dozen Division I programs, based on information included in wiretap conversations from the defendants and financial records, emails and cell phone records seized from NBA agent Andy Miller. His office was raided on the same day the FBI arrested 10 men, including four assistant coaches, in late September.

"It's not the mid-major programs who were trying to buy players to get to the top," a source told ESPN. "It's the teams that are already there."

Miller, the president and founder of ASM Sports in New Jersey, relinquished his NBA agent certification in December. He represented NBA stars such as Kevin Garnett, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

The sources told ESPN that many of the alleged incidents involve illegal cash payments to prospects and their families, as well as players and their families receiving tens of thousands of dollars from agents while they were still playing in college. In some cases, according to the sources, NCAA head coaches were aware of the payments, while others did not have knowledge of the schemes.

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