Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person, USC assistant Tony Bland, Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans and Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson were among those indicted on multiple federal charges by a federal grand jury on Tuesday. The four assistant coaches, along with Christian Dawkins, Merl Code and ex-NBA referee Rashan Michel — who was indicted along with Person — were among 10 men arrested in September during the FBI’s sweeping investigation into corruption and bribery in college basketball.
According to Person’s indictment, obtained by ESPN in a report from Mark Schlabach, Person, “participated in a scheme whereby bribes were solicited from and paid by a financial advisor and business manager to Person … and such bribe payments were facilitated by Michel. In exchange for the bribes, Person agreed to exert, and did exert, his influence over student-athletes under his control to retain the services of the bribe-payors once the athletes eventually entered the National Basketball Association.”
Charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, Travel Act conspiracy and solicitation of bribes and gratuities by an agent of a federally funded organization, Person was arrested on Sept. 26 and then arraigned on Oct. 10. Person was released on $100,000 bond.
On the day of his arrest, Person was suspended without pay from Auburn. The school has since opted to hold out two Tiger players, Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley, from competition until things are resolved as the school doesn’t want to deal with NCAA eligibility issues. In its first game without Purifoy and Wiley, Auburn lost an exhibition game at home to Division II Barry University as the Tigers could be in big trouble without to of their best players.
In the federal complaint initially released on Sept. 26, Person was alleged to have received $91,500 in bribes from Michel and others. Person then allegedly gave $18,500 to the parents of two players.
Bland, Evans and Richardson were also indicted later Tuesday according to a report from Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. Bland, a USC assistant, was indicted on four counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud. As Fenno noted, Bland is facing two fewer counts than the original complaint. Evans, Richardson, Dawkins and Code were also included on the Bland indictment.
Accused of accepting a $13,000 bribe in July from Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood — who hasn’t been indicted as of now — Bland was said to be directing USC players to use their services when the players went pro.
“Bland also confirmed that, by virtue of his position as a coach for the University of Southern California’s basketball team, he exerted significant influence over his athletes in deciding which agents and advisors to retain,” the indictment said of the meeting.
“We strongly believe that the conduct charged in the complaint does not rise to a crime and that Tony Bland, a hardworking and well-regarded assistant coach, is being scapegoated for all the ills of college basketball, all due to an alleged $13,000 payment,” Lichtman said in a statement to The Times. “No multimillionaire head coach was charged, or any multibillion dollar sneaker company after years of investigation. It’s not fair and anyone who knows anything about college basketball knows this to be true.”