Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ex-Adidas consultant, agent found guilty in NCAA bribery scandal

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Former Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins were found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to bribe NCAA college basketball coaches to steer standout players to a sports management company.

But the conviction was only a partial victory for prosecutors as the federal jury in Manhattan that found Dawkins guilty of paying bribes — and both defendants guilty of conspiring to bribe coaches — also delivered not guilty verdicts on three additional counts, including honest services fraud against the University of Arizona, Oklahoma State University and the University of South Carolina.

The jurors in the case, who deliberated the verdicts for three days, declined to comment.

But Steve Haney, Dawkins’ attorney, said the verdict shows that the universities did not fall victim to a fraud scheme.

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“How do you have fraud without a victim?” he said.

Speaking to reporters, Dawkins admitted that he was “no angel” and that he was at “the wrong place at the wrong time.” But he said that he and others who have been caught up in the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office’s crackdown on kickbacks in college sports have been made scapegoats while universities continue to profit from unpaid players.

“The fact that we’re the problem and the people who are making the money aren’t — that’s crazy,” Dawkins said.

Code, 45, and Dawkins, 26, were previously convicted of bribing players’ families and were sentenced to six months on those charges. As for their new convictions, Dawkins could a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and Code could receive up to five years.

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The second conviction of Code and Dawkins marks the “culmination” of the US attorney’s announcement of criminal charges for bribery in college basketball, the office said in a news release. On Tuesday, a ninth defendant in the prosecution, former NBA ref Rashan Michel, pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy.

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