NCAA Game Rigging Scheme: From Working in Politics to Working with the Mafia

Benjamin Bifalco, a 25-year-old former political staffer for a New York State Assemblyperson, was arrested in October 2019 for his role in attempting to rig an NCAA basketball game. He is expected to plead guilty on the charges. Previously, we reported Bifalco was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. Section 224(a), which makes it unlawful to influence a sporting contest “in any way, by bribery. . . .” Per the indictment, Bifalco is alleged to have “knowingly and intentionally attempt[ed] to . . . influence by…
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MLB Umpire Joe West Sues Ex-Player Paul Lo Duca for Defamation Over Bribery Claims

Major League Baseball umpire Joe West has filed a lawsuit against ex-player Paul Lo Duca, alleging that Lo Duca defamed West by falsely accusing him of bribery. In one of his podcasts this past April, Lo Duca claimed that a teammate told him that West engaged in bribery. That teammate, Billy Wagner, allegedly told Lo Duca at a 2006 or 2007 New York Mets v. Philadelphia Phillies game that he lent West his 1957 Chevrolet in exchange for opening up the strike zone for him.…
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Feds Discover NCAA Game Rigging Attempt, Mafia Connected

On October 3, 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York unsealed a series of indictments against alleged crime family La Cosa Nostra (the Colombo Family). Among those arrested were Benjamin Bifalco, an associate of the Colombo Family, and Joseph Amato Jr., the son of an alleged Colombo Family captain Joseph Amato. Bifalco was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. Section 224(a), which makes it unlawful to influence a sporting contest “in any way, by bribery. . . .” Per the…
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Key Witness in NCAA Corruption Trial Avoids Prison Time

Munish Sood, a crucial witness in the NCAA corruption cases, will avoid both prison time and probation, a federal judge ruled. Sood, a New Jersey financial adviser, admitted to paying bribes to a variety of people involved in college athletics. Included are two former assistant coaches: Lamont Evans, of the University of South Carolina, and Emanuel “Book” Richardson, of the University of Arizona, who each pled guilty and faced three months of prison time. Government counsel requested leniency at Sood’s hearing, with attorney Noah…
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New York Federal Jury Again Finds Former Adidas Official and Business Manager Guilty Due to Bribery Roles in “Pay-for-Play” NCAA Scandal

On May 8, 2019, a New York federal jury convicted aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins and former shoe company basketball consultant Merl Code of conspiring to bribe assistant college basketball coaches. Back in October 2018, another Manhattan federal jury convicted Dawkins and Code – along with former Adidas executive James Gatto – on conspiracy and fraud charges as a result of yet another trial coming out of this high-profile “pay-for-play” NCAA scandal. Following this conviction, Dawkins and Code were sentenced to six months in prison…
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NCAA Head Coaches Sean Miller and Will Wade Likely Won’t Testify in Upcoming Federal Basketball Corruption Trial

On April 19, 2019, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that two high profile NCAA men’s basketball coaches, accused of corrupt recruiting practices, are not likely to testify in an upcoming federal corruption trial. As we have previously reported, in February 2019, reports began circulating that Sean Miller, head coach at the University of Arizona, and Will Wade, head coach at Louisiana State University, were subpoenaed to testify in an upcoming trail. The trial focuses on alleged bribes paid to assistant coaches at Arizona,…
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Father of Ex-Louisville Recruit Gives Moving Testimony in NCAA Corruption/Bribery Trial

On October 4, 2018, the father of ex-University of Louisville basketball recruit, Brian “Tugs” Bowen, broke down in tears before he gave testimony in the NCAA Corruption/Bribery Trial. As we have previously reported, on February 21, 2018, Yahoo Sports reported that financial records, documents, and wiretaps tied to prominent former NBA agent, Andy Miller, and his former associate, Christian Dawkins, provided the prosecution with a detailed window into the ongoing NCAA Corruption and Bribery scandal. The scandal, now case, involves Adidas executive Jim Gatto,…
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NCAA Bribery Scandal UPDATE: Former Auburn Coach Moves to Dismiss Charges

On July 27, 2018, Chuck Connors Person, a former NBA player and former Auburn University assistant coach, asked the court, once again, to dismiss the government’s charges against him. According to Person’s memorandum, “the government filed a superseding indictment, which abandoned the original wire fraud conspiracy theory and presented an entirely different wire fraud charge against Person. However, the superseding indictment did not fix any of the problems of the original indictment and, according to Person, the government “failed to advance any persuasive arguments…
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Update: University of Maryland Basketball Subpoenaed in NCAA Corruption/Bribery Case

On July 6, 2018, the University of Maryland Men’s Basketball team responded to Federal Grand Jury subpoenas requesting records in the NCAA Corruption/Bribery Case. Specifically, the Grand Jury asked Maryland for records regarding an unidentified former player, assistant coach Orlando “Bino” Ranson, and Silvio De Sousa, a recruit who ultimately attended the University of Kansas. After responding to the subpoenas, Maryland made a public statement that read, “[t]he University has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with the ongoing federal investigation.” As we have…
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