Christian Dawkins sentenced for role in college basketball bribery scandal

ByJeff Borzello ESPN logo
Thursday, October 3, 2019

NEW YORK -- A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Christian Dawkins to one year and one day in prison for each of two bribery charges, to be served concurrently, for his role in bribing college basketball assistant coaches to influence players to sign with Dawkins' sports management company and certain financial advisers once they turned pro.

Dawkins, an aspiring business manager, was found guilty of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery on May 8. Prior to serving the concurrent sentences, he must serve a six-month prison sentence stemming from another trial last October, in which he was found guilty in a pay-for-play scheme to steer recruits to Adidas-sponsored college basketball programs.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said Dawkins was not "duped or misled" in the bribery schemes, nor was he too unsophisticated to know what he was doing.

"He was the one leading a lot of these conversations," Ramos said. "... He is a person who, by nature of his upbringing, knows better. He had opportunities to go a different way."

Ramos also agreed with the government's assertion that Dawkins perjured himself by giving false testimony.

"I believe that he lied to the jury," Ramos said.

Dawkins broke down crying multiple times during an emotional statement to Ramos before the judge handed down his sentence.

"None of this was worth it," said Dawkins, who had originally been facing six total charges.

His attorney said they will appeal this case, and are already appealing the first case.

"We're not done fighting," attorney Steven Haney said. "This was punitive. [The government] was mad he would not cooperate, mad he wouldn't snitch on college coaches. He was a bait fish that didn't wiggle on the hook like they wanted him to."

The United States Probation Office recommended a prison sentence of 12 months and one day. In the government's sentencing memorandum, they also accused Dawkins of obstructing justice, saying he "clearly impeded his prosecution by giving false testimony at trial."

Dawkins' attorneys argued for no jail time, instead requesting supervised release with "special conditions of home confinement and community service."

"No term of imprisonment is necessary to deter Christian from committing crimes similar to those charges in this case, nor is a term of imprisonment necessary to achieve a just punishment for his actions, which he resides with daily," his sentencing memorandum read.

Dawkins was accused of facilitating bribes to former assistant coaches Tony Bland (USC), Emanuel "Book" Richardson (Arizona) and Lamont Evans (South Carolina, Oklahoma State). Following the trial, Haney said his client was found guilty of conspiring to bribe and bribing Evans, but found not guilty of the charges relating to Bland and Richardson.

Richardson and Evans were sentenced in June to three months of prison, while Bland received probation.

Haney argued in Dawkins' sentencing memorandum that his client is far from the only person engaging in bribery and corruption in college basketball recruiting.

"Christian may be sentenced to prison for engaging in conduct that has been going on for decades without criminal sanction," Haney wrote. "[I]n the vast majority of cases, NCAA rule-breaking, where detected, is handled outside the criminal justice system, almost always by the NCAA and in the instance of alleged bribery, never by the Federal Courts ...

"[M]any of the other individuals that the Government knows participated in the exact same conduct as Christian Dawkins, and the co-Defendants, have not been, and apparently will not be criminally charged. Notwithstanding the terms of the current protective order, the Government is fully aware numerous Division I head basketball coaches engaged in the same conduct as charged in his case, but for some inexplicable reason were not charged."

After being convicted in October 2018, Dawkins was sentenced in March to six months in prison for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The two other men convicted in last October's trial, James Gatto and Merl Code, received prison sentences of nine and six months, respectively.

Code was also convicted in May's trial, with a jury finding him guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery. He was originally facing four total charges. Code will be sentenced on Friday. The Probation Office recommended the same sentence for Code: 12 months and one day, to run consecutive to the sentences he and Dawkins received in the first trial.