A federal grand jury impaneled in New York has indicted suspended assistant head basketball coach Chuck Person on six felony bribery and wire fraud charges, according to court documents. Following the indictment, the University announced Person had been terminated.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York confirmed the indictments to The Plainsman.
"He is no longer an Auburn employee," a spokesperson said. "As such, it’s completely in the hands of the criminal justice system."
The grand jury returned similar indictments against a high-end Atlanta-based clothing executive Rashan Michel, a former NBA official and founder of Thompson Bespoke Clothing, a men's clothing company that often tailors to NFL and NBA sports stars.
"In exchange for the bribes, Person agreed to exert, and did exert, his influence over student-athletes under his control to retain the services of the bribe-payers once the athletes eventually entered the National Basketball Association," the indictment reads.
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Person and Michel are accused of conspiring together as part of a scheme that directed payments to Person in return for funneling players to financial advisers for money advice and Michel for clothing if they made it into the NBA draft.
The indictment posits similar allegations to those the U.S. Attorney's Office announced in September as part of a two-year investigation into basketball coaches across the country. The new indictment again charges that Person used his influence to steer players and their families to particular advisers — not because of their merits but because he was being bribed to do so.
"The illicit payments to athletes' families also defrauded Auburn University by interfering with Auburn University's ability to control its assets, and creating a risk of tangible economic harm," the indictment continues.
Person and nine other individuals including three other NCAA Division I assistant and associate coaches were arrested in September as part of a nationwide law enforcement effort and a federal investigation into NCAA basketball programs and coaches.
In October, federal prosecutors subpoenaed the University, requesting a wide range of documents related to Person and the basketball program. The University, which is not believed to be implicated in the scheme, has promised full cooperation with federal investigators.
Employees of public institutions funded by the federal government are prohibited from accepting bribes by federal law. During the last fiscal year, Person was paid more than $279,000 by the University. His last payment came on Sept. 29, 2017, days after he was charged, according to open records.
The University suspended him on Sept. 26, the day the initial charges became public. The University has not responded to a request for comment on the six-count indictment.
Person, a former Auburn and NBA basketball star, joined head coach Bruce Pearl's coaching staff in 2014. The indictment alleges that Person accepted $91,500 in bribes from an unnamed cooperating witness in the case believed to be Martin Blazer, a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser who recently pleaded guilty to charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
On top of the $91,000 bribes from Blazer, among others, Person is also accused of accepting $50,000 in cash bribes from Michel in exchange for steering student-athletes to his clothing company and other interests. In total, Person is accused of handling more than $141,000.
The United States attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Person with accepting bribe money in exchange for directing student-athletes to money managers and agents if they were to make it to the NBA draft. The grand jury
Among the six-count indictment are charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes and gratuities by an agent of a federally funded organization, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and travel act conspiracy.
More indictments are expected in the case against the other individuals implicated in the investigation — among them, the three other Division I basketball coaches at USC, Oklahoma State and Arizona, and an Adidas representative.
READ THE INDICTMENT
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