Indian American Munish Sood arrested in college basketball fraud scheme

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NEW YORK – An Indian American athlete advisor, Munish Sood, is among 10 individuals arrested in connection with two related fraud and corruption schemes, involving the sport of basketball.

The arrested include four Division I NCAA men’s basketball coaches and a senior executive at a major athletic apparel company (“Company-1”).

In the first scheme, college basketball coaches took cash bribes from athlete advisors, including business managers and financial advisors, in exchange for using their influence over college players under their control to pressure and direct those players and their families to retain the services of the advisors paying the bribes, according to the Justice Department.

In the second scheme, a senior executive, working for Company-1, in connection with corrupt advisors, funneled bribe payments to high school-aged players and their families to secure those players’ commitments to attend universities sponsored by Company-1, rather than universities sponsored by rival athletic apparel companies.

The announcement was made by Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The three complaints charge four coaches, Chuck Connors Person, Lamont Evans, Emanuel Richardson, a/k/a “Book,” and Anthony Bland a/k/a “Tony”; three athlete advisors, Christian Dawkins, Munish Sood, and Rashan Michel, a senior executive at Company-1, James Gatto, a/k/a “Jim,” along with two individuals affiliated with Company-1, Merl Code and Jonathan Brad Augustine, with wire fraud, bribery, travel act, and conspiracy offenses. The defendants were all arrested earlier this week in various parts of the country.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one – coaches at some of the nation’s top programs taking cash bribes, managers and advisors circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes, and employees of a global sportswear company funneling cash to families of high school recruits. For the ten charged men, the madness of college basketball went well beyond the Big Dance in March. Month after month, the defendants allegedly exploited the hoop dreams of student-athletes around the country, treating them as little more than opportunities to enrich themselves through bribery and fraud schemes. The defendants’ alleged criminal conduct not only sullied the spirit of amateur athletics, but showed contempt for the thousands of players and coaches who follow the rules, and play the game the right way.”

The charges in the complaints result from a scheme involving bribery, corruption, and fraud in intercollegiate athletics. Since 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI have been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and student-athletes who participate in intercollegiate basketball governed by the NCAA.

Participants in both schemes allegedly took steps to conceal the illegal payments, including (i) funneling them to athletes and/or their families indirectly through surrogates and entities controlled by the scheme participants; and (ii) making or intending to make misrepresentations to the relevant universities regarding the involvement of student-athletes and coaches in the schemes, in violation of NCAA rules.

As described in the complaints, these schemes operated as a fraud on the universities involved, all of which provide scholarships to players and salaries to coaches with the understanding and expectation that the players and coaches are in full compliance with all relevant NCAA rules and regulations. Moreover, these schemes subject the universities to substantial potential penalties by the NCAA, including, but not limited to, financial fines and penalties as well as the potential loss of eligibility to compete in various NCAA events.

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