College Basketball Corruption Trial: Defendants found guilty on all counts
The first trial stemming from the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball came to a close on Wednesday afternoon as the jury, after three days of deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.
Former Adidas executive James Gatto was found guilty on all three conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges that he faced, while fellow Adidas executive Merl Code and Christian Dawkins, a former runner for ex-NBA agent Andy Miller (pictured above), were convicted on both of the counts that they face.
Sentencing for the three men will take place on March 5th at 10 a.m. They will remain out on bond until then, and all three will likely appeal the verdict.
Two more trials are scheduled to take place in the coming months. Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel are scheduled for trial in February while a trio of former assistant coaches -- Arizona’s Book Richardson, Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans and USC’s Tony Bland -- will head to court in April.
The three men were charged with pay-for-play schemes that helped funnel players to Kansas, Louisville and N.C. State -- three schools that are sponsored by Adidas. The felony charges stemmed from the defendants paying money to the families of the athletes in question to ensure that they signed with Adidas-sponsored schools and, in the case of Dawkins, with a specific financial planner after the players turned pro.
Brian Bowen’s father agreed to a deal that would pay him $100,000 in exchange for his son’s commitment to Louisville. Bowen Sr. agreed to a deal with the prosecution to testify against the defendants. He was paid less than 20 percent of the money. His son was never cleared to play at Louisville or at South Carolina, where he eventually transferred, and has instead turned pro in Australia after pulling out of the 2018 NBA Draft process.
Gatto’s charges stemmed from allegations that he conspired with another former Adidas employee, T.J. Gassnola, to pay $90,000 to the family of Billy Preston and $20,000 to the guardian of Silvio De Sousa to get them to head to Kansas. Preston did not play for the Jayhawks last season before turning pro in January. De Sousa enrolled in December and played during the Kansas run to the Final Four. It was announced earlier today that he will be held out of competition this season pending a review of his eligibility.
Gassnola also testified that he gave former N.C. State assistant coach Orlando Early $40,000 to give to the family of Dennis Smith Jr., a payment that was approved by Gatto.