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In SDNY Endgame After Basketball Coach Pleads Out He Says He Did Not Know It Was Illegal

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

SDNY COURTHOUSE, January 30 –   In an otherwise routine allocution of guilt on January 20 by a former college basketball coach to steering prospects to financial advisers for bribes, the prosecution's final question caused chaos. Lamont Evans had read a statement but got asked if he knew what he did was wrong and against the law. He replied that he knew it was wrong. But he did not know it was against the law.

The proceeding stopped; his lawyer Mr. Martin conferred with the at least four representatives of the US Attorney's Office there. Finally because his prepared statement said he knew it was illegal, and seemingly because knowledge of illegality was not an element of the crime, things proceeded, and will proceed to sentencing. Inner City Press retrieved its phone and laptop from security - which had taken some ten minutes to pass through - and streamed this Periscope video from Foley Square.

From the government's press release after the proceeding: "Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Lamont Evans, formerly a men’s basketball coach at South Carolina and Oklahoma State, abused his position as a mentor and coach for personal gain.  Evans took bribes from unscrupulous agents and financial advisers to steer his players to those agents and advisers.  A scheme Evans apparently thought was a slam-dunk actually proved to be a flagrant foul.”     According to the Complaint, the Indictment, statements made in court, and publicly available documents:     EVANS was a men’s basketball coach at South Carolina until on or about April 2016, and then at OSU until shortly after his arrest.  Beginning in 2016, and continuing into September 2017, when EVANS was arrested, EVANS received approximately $22,000 in cash bribes from current and aspiring financial advisers and/or managers for professional athletes in exchange for EVANS’s agreement to exert his influence over certain student-athletes EVANS coached at South Carolina and OSU to retain the services of the bribe payers once those players entered the National Basketball Association (“NBA”).      In one meeting recorded during the investigation, Evans explained how “every guy I recruit and get is my personal kid,” and that “the parents believe in me and what I do … that’s why I say, if I need X, so if I do take X for that, it’s going to generate [business] toward you guys,” referring to the bribers.  Evans also stated in a call recorded during the investigation how this arrangement was “generating more wealth” for the scheme participants, because they were “able to scratch my back, scratch yours, and help each other with different things and . . . at the same time get compensated and then . . . just go from there.”  In return for the cash bribes EVANS received, EVANS facilitated a meeting between the bribe payers and a player at OSU, and a meeting between the bribe payers and a relative of a different player attending South Carolina, for the purpose of pressuring those players to retain the financial services of the bribe payers.     In addition to today’s plea, Emanuel Richardson, a/k/a “Book,” a former men’s basketball coach at the University of Arizona, and Anthony Bland, a/k/a “Tony,” a former men’s basketball coach at the University of Southern California, both previously pled guilty, pursuant to plea agreements with the Government, in connection with this scheme.  Munish Sood, a financial adviser, also previously pled guilty, pursuant to a cooperation agreement with the Government, in connection with this scheme.     *                *                *     EVANS, 41, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.  As a condition of his plea, EVANS agreed to forfeit $22,000.  The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2019, before Judge Ramos.     Mr. Berman praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.     The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Boone, Noah Solowiejczyk, and Eli J. Mark are in charge of the prosecution."


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