Wednesday, January 20, 2021

N.Y. man pleads guilty in NCAA match-fixing scheme

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A New York man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges that he attempted to bribe a college basketball player to fix a Division 1 game in December 2018.

Benjamin Bifalco, now 25, of Staten Island, N.Y., devised a “scheme to fix an NCAA college basketball game,” federal prosecutors said.

The indictment against Bifalco was unsealed in September. The next month the Department of Justice announced that he was among 20 defendants arrested and charged on various offenses, including attempted sports bribery and indictments against 11 members and associates of the Colombo organized crime family.

FBI wiretaps captured the scheme to fix the NCAA basketball game, and Bifalco allegedly offered members of a college basketball team thousands of dollars to intentionally lose the game, a DOJ statement said.

Bifalco’s attorney Vincent Martinelli told ESPN Bifalco admitted he offered money to a player to make sure his team lost by more than the point spread, but the player did not accept the offer and it never materialized.

The name of the player and the school have not been revealed.

His sentencing is scheduled for June, Martinelli said. He could face up to five years in prison, under the statute, but prosecutors recommended six months.

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