College basketball’s fraud scandal has expanded by two schools after federal prosecutors alleged Thursday that basketball middleman Christian Dawkins paid a pair of $6,000 bribes to assistant coaches at unnamed schools located in Nebraska and Texas in order for them to later steer future NBA players to him.
Sources told Yahoo Sports the assistant coaches involved are Preston Murphy of Creighton and Corey Barker of TCU. Neither have been charged nor are they expected to be charged with any crimes.
“No new charges have been added,” wrote Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in court documents.
In a superseding indictment, prosecutors allege that Dawkins paid $6,000 to an assistant from each school in separate incidents during July 28, 2017, meetings inside a Las Vegas hotel room. An undercover FBI agent was also present.
The coaches were paid “in exchange for [the coach’s] agreement to steer certain student-athletes [the coach] coached to retain Dawkins and the services of Dawkins’ company, once those athletes entered the NBA.”
It further alleges that on Sept. 16, 2017, Dawkins had a phone conversation with the coach at the Texas school “about arranging a meeting between Dawkins and one of [the coach’s] current players, after practices start for the men’s basketball team. During the telephone call, Dawkins and [the coach] discussed that the player was likely to be drafted in the NBA draft, and it would be a ‘layup’ for Dawkins to sign the player as a client.”
The FBI tapped Dawkins’ cellphone from late spring to late September of 2017.
Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney, ripped the superseding indictment, saying that the feds are engaging in selective prosecution and are motivated by frustration over Dawkins and fellow defendant Merl Code receiving lenient sentences earlier this week. Despite federal sentencing guidelines calling for prison terms of 30 to 37 months, each received just six months from Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
“It’s no coincidence that two days after a sentencing which they were disappointed in, they decide to issue a new indictment on information they have had for a year and a half,” Haney told Yahoo Sports. “It speaks to how this case has been handled from the beginning.
“What is truly offensive is the selective prosecution,” Haney said, questioning why assistant coaches at Arizona, USC and Oklahoma State were all charged with accepting bribes in September 2017 but these two assistants were not. “There are lives and careers on the line here. Why were those men prosecuted and these two aren’t? Prosecutors are being selective, flipping a coin on who to charge today and who to charge tomorrow and who not to charge at all.
“If they think this will change our resolve, they have it wrong,” Haney said. “If anything, it strengthens our resolve and will make us fight harder.”
In court papers, the feds did not ask for the trial to be pushed back from its April 22 date, but the defense can still request a continuance to better prepare for the new information.
No players were specifically named in the indictment.
TCU acknowledged the receipt of a subpoena for employment records and is conducting an internal review. The school declined further comment.
Creighton was mentioned numerous times during the first federal trial in relation to the recruitment of Brian “Tugs” Bowen, who eventually signed with Louisville. Bowen’s father testified that he was offered $100,000 and a “lucrative” job by assistant coach Preston Murphy if his son signed with the school. Murphy, Dawkins and the Bowens are all natives of Saginaw, Michigan.
Dawkins was arrested within weeks of the call to TCU, ending a would-be career as a sports agent. Dawkins, 26, was found guilty in October on charges of wire fraud and earlier this week was sentenced to six months in prison.
He and Adidas consultant Merl Code will stand trial in late April in New York on charges of bribing college coaches to help them recruit clients. Both have maintained their innocence and promised aggressive defenses to the charges.
Three other assistant coaches the government alleged Dawkins and Code bribed were charged in this case back in 2017. All three already pleaded guilty — former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, former USC assistant Tony Bland and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans.
The government does not explain why those three were charged with federal crimes here yet the two additional assistant coaches were not.
Former Auburn assistant and NBA great Chuck Person, along with Atlanta clothier Rashan Michel, are schedule to stand trial on separate charges in June.
What does the superseding indictment mean legally going forward?
“The government may be attempting to bring all possible charges for the conspiracies that it could prove in court,” said Stephen L. Hill Jr., a partner at the global firm Dentons. “And that’s the reason for adding the allegations regarding Coach 1 and Coach 2. There may be a number of legal challenges that may be made to the superseding [indictment], however you’d have to believe the government has its ducks in a row to proceed in this fashion.”
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