adidas discount Auburn associate head coach Chuck Person among 10 facing corruption charges
Auburn men’s basketball associate head coach Chuck Person has been charged with six counts of federal corruption stemming from an FBI investigation.
Person, Auburn’s former All American and the program’s all time leading scorer, has been on Bruce Pearl’s staff at Auburn since 2014. He is one of 10 individuals charged in federal court in Manhattan, along with assistant coaches at Arizona, Southern California and Oklahoma.
Person’s charges are detailed in a 32 page federal document released Tuesday, part of more than 120 pages from the FBI investigation that involved a confidential informant posing as a financial advisor.
You can read the full complaint here. Attorney Joon H. Kim at the news conference.
“Coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisers circling blue chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits.”
According to a federal court document, Person and Rashan Michel, a former NBA and NCAA official and current custom clothier, agreed to accept approximately $50,000 in bribe payments. In the end, Person received more than $90,000 from the FBI confidential informant in exchange for steering NBA destined college stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisors.
By doing so,
the document said, the two, “willfully and knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other to commit offenses against the United States.”
Following the announcement, Auburn University suspended Person without pay effective immediately and released a statement expressing its “shock” at the news. The school has also hired the Birmingham based law firm of Lightfoot, Franklin White to conduct an internal review of the men’s basketball program.
It’s the same law firm that was hired to investigate the Auburn softball program last month.
In six counts, Person faces charges for bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and travel act conspiracy. He could face up to 80 years in prison.
Along with Person, the coaches identified in court papers are Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona,
Tony Bland of USC and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. They are in federal custody and expected to make court appearances later Tuesday. Others charged in the federal case included managers, financial advisers and James Gatto, the director of global sports marketing at Adidas. Attorney Kim said the NCAA was made aware of the covert investigation only on Tuesday. The NCAA responded in mid afternoon with the following statement from its president, Mark Emmert:
“The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing. We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust.
“For the 10 charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March,” Kim said. “Month after month, the defendants exploited the hoop dreams of student athletes around the country, allegedly treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes.”
Investigators said the coaches have “enormous influence” over their players and how they select their agents and other advisers when they leave college and enter the NBA.
“The investigation has revealed several instances in which coaches have exercised that influence by steering players and their families to retain particular advisors, not because of the merits of those advisers, but because the coaches were being bribed by the advisers to do so,” the papers said.
Person was arrested in Alabama; Bland in Tampa,
Florida; Evans in Oklahoma; and Richardson in Arizona. It was not immediately clear who will represent them or Adidas executive James Gatto in court.
The federal document provides details of conversations that Person and Michel had with an FBI informant serving as a financial advisor (referred to as CW 1 in the document) starting last year.
Around 2016, Michel and the confidential informant posing as a sports agent met through another sports agent. Michel was told the informant/agent would be willing to pay college coaches who were willing to wield their influence over student athletes as a means to feed the informant’s financial advising business.
Michel told the informant he could introduce him to several coaches who would be willing to accept bribes and specifically talked about an Auburn University coach. During the discussion, Michel said, “the good thing about it is, I got all the college coaches right now because, guess what, I’m the one that’s with them. I make all their suits.”
Michel also said he had “access to the locker room” as well as “access to the kids and everything,” in addition to stating, “the [expletive] basketball guys [get] way more money than these [expletive] football guys. We can get us 10 basketball players in the next five years and we gonna have to sit back and do absolutely nothing.”
Michel told the informant / financial advisor he knew an Auburn coach, later identified as Person, who needed a $60,000 loan and would “have 3 or 4 pros come out a year. [H]e’s got one or two of them that’s gonna be pretty high draft picks.” In exchange for the loan thatthe coach would pay back over two years,
Micheltold the financial advisor thatthe coach could “give us 2 or 3 kids that’s all coming out of his program.”
In a meeting on or about November 29, at an unnamed restaurant located near the Auburn campus, Person whose annual salary was last reported to be $240,000 agreed to accept $50,000 in bribe payments in exchange for steering student athletes on AU’s team toa specific team of sports advisors. The conversation was recorded with video and audio by the informant.
At that meeting, Personsaid tothe informant thata new member of Auburn’s basketball team, the “9th ranked kid in the country,”would be joiningaround January.
According to the document, Person addedhow “nobody knows” that the athlete would startplaying for Auburn in January and would “play a year and a half”beforeparticipating inthe NBA draft “because he can’t leave this year, because he has to play a full college season.”
Michelremarked toPerson, “we want to try to get involved with him now, as soon as possible.”
Michel continued to discuss the proposition, saying, “What we gonna do is,
every time you send me a kid, I’m gonna offset some of that money I gave you. You good with that?”