James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins all sentenced to prison time in first basketball fraud trial

NEW YORK — Former Adidas executive James Gatto was sentenced to nine months in prison Tuesday for his role in college basketball’s federal fraud scandal.

Co-defendants Merl Code, an Adidas consultant, and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins, each received six months.

All three were found guilty on conspiracy and fraud charges in October after a three-week jury trial. The sentences were handed down by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in the Southern District of New York.

Gatto, 48, received a longer sentence due to additional convictions from his role as the boss of what prosecutors called an orchestrated effort to defraud college basketball teams.

All three were part of a plan to provide cash and other gifts to the families of top NBA prospects in order to either steer them to Adidas-sponsored schools or, once they turned professional, preferred agents and financial planners.

Those actions violate NCAA rules.

The second college hoops corruption trial could open a window to significant revelations. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
The second college hoops corruption trial could open a window to significant revelations. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

The government was able to convince the jury that by making the players ineligible, Gatto, Code and Dawkins had defrauded the schools by having them unwittingly give scholarships to athletes that put the basketball programs at risk of NCAA sanctions.

The schools involved in the first trial were North Carolina State, Louisville and Kansas.

Code and Dawkins are also scheduled to stand trial in April on additional charges of bribery for giving money to assistant coaches at Arizona, Oklahoma State and Southern California so they might direct NBA prospects to preferred agents and financial planners.

Each of the former college assistant coaches involved have reached plea deals with the government.

The NCAA says it is aggressively investigating all evidence revealed at the first trial and will act upon additional allegations stemming from the next trial.

A third trial, involving former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, is scheduled for later this year.

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