February 10, 2018 / 11:08 PM / 7 months ago

U.S. drops charges against defendant in NCAA corruption case

(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors have dropped all criminal charges against the former director of an amateur basketball program who was among 10 people charged last year in a major corruption case involving college basketball, according to a court filing.

In September, federal prosecutors in Manhattan accused Jonathan Brad Augustine of participating in a scheme to facilitate and make bribes to high-school basketball players so they would go to universities sponsored by Adidas AG.

In a document filed in federal court on Friday, prosecutors moved to dismiss a criminal complaint they filed against Augustine that charged him with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

It was unclear why prosecutors had sought to dismiss the case against Augustine, the former program director for Orlando, Florida-based travel basketball organization 1 Family Hoops.

Lawyers for Augustine did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday. Representatives for Manhattan U.S. Geoffrey Berman also did not respond to requests for comment.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

In September, federal prosecutors unveiled fraud charges against 10 people associated with some of the country’s premier college basketball programs, including four coaches and an Adidas executive.

Prosecutors said they uncovered two related schemes, including one in which apparel executives, financial advisers and others bribed assistant college coaches to steer elite players to them.

In the second scheme, prosecutors said James Gatto, a senior executive at Adidas, and Merl Code, a person affiliated with the company, conspired to pay high school players or their families to enroll at universities the German sportswear supplier sponsored.

Prosecutors said Augustine; money manager Munish Sood; and sports management company employee Christian Dawkins brokered and facilitated the payments in exchange for a promise that the players also would retain the services Dawkins and Sood upon turning professional.

Gatto, Code and Dawkins have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors in a filing on Friday said they are in discussions with Sood’s lawyers about a “possible disposition” of the case against him.

Others charged in September included Chuck Person, a former National Basketball Association star who became associate head coach at Auburn University, his alma mater.

The other coaches charged were Anthony “Tony” Bland, from the University of Southern California; Lamont Evans, from Oklahoma State University and formerly the University of South Carolina; and Emanuel “Book” Richardson, from the University of Arizona. They have pleaded not guilty.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston

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