LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Tony Bland, assistant coach of the University of Southern California’s basketball team, was among 10 people facing fraud and corruption charges in federal court Tuesday.
Bland accepted at least $13,000 in bribes from a pair of “athlete advisers” between June and September in exchange for Bland influencing players to hire the advisers when they began playing in the NBA, according to federal prosecutors.
“I definitely can get the players,” prosecutors contend that Bland told the advisers. “And I can definitely mold the players and put them in the lap of you guys.”
In addition to Bland, other coaches identified in court papers include former NBA star and Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State. They are in federal custody and expected to make court appearances later Tuesday.
They were among 10 people charged in New York City federal court. Others included managers, financial advisers and representatives of a major international sportswear company.
One unsealed complaint alleges “Person abused his coaching position (at Auburn) to solicit or obtain bribe payments” from a financial advisor for professional athletes, according to USA Today, which reported the investigation had been underway since 2015.
Over a 10-month period, the financial advisor allegedly paid more than $91,000 in bribes to Person in exchange for Person “agreeing to direct certain (Auburn) basketball players to retain the services (of the financial advisor)
when those student-athletes entered the NBA.”
A statement from USC athletic director Lynn Swann called the charges “shocking” and pledged cooperation with the investigation.
Bland was placed on administrative leave, according to university officials.
The university also tapped former FBI director Louis J. Freeh and his company to assist in “conducting an internal investigation into this matter so that we can take action quickly and appropriately.”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)