Tony Bland indicted on charges including bribery, wire fraud

USC men’s basketball associate head coach Tony Bland was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury following his arrest in September in connection with a corruption ring.

Bland was originally arrested with 10 other men also accused of bribery, several of whom have also been indicted. He faces charges for conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud and two other charges out of the original six he was accused of at the time of his arrest.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the indictment formally accused Bland alongside fellow Division I assistant coaches Book Richardson of Arizona and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, sports agent Christians Dawkins and Merl Code of Adidas who face similar charges. Auburn assistant Chuck Person and Rashan Michel, who is a former NCAA referee and owns a clothing company, were charged in a separate indictment. It is not yet known if Adidas employee Jim Gatto, who was also arrested, was indicted on Tuesday.

Financial adviser Munish Sood and Florida youth coach Brad Augustine, who were both charged initially in September were not indicted. The court granted their attorneys a two-week continuance to negotiate a deal, according the Los Angeles Times.

Bland was put on administrative leave in late September by USC following his arrest.

He is charged with taking a $13,000 bribe in July from Sood and Dawkins to sway college athletes to use their services, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Bland also confirmed that, by virtue of his position as a coach for the University of Southern California’s basketball team, he exerted significant influence over his athletes in deciding which agents and advisers to retain,” the indictment said, according to the Times.

He was also charged with giving $9,000 to two families of USC basketball athletes in late August. The indictment also accuses Bland of defrauding the University by hiding the bribes that caused the school to give athletic scholarships to athletes regarded as ineligible due to the bribe payments.

Following the arrest, USC hired former FBI director Louis J. Freeh to conduct an internal investigation.

“Everyone loves Tony Bland,” head coach Andy Enfield said in an interview last week with the Daily Trojan. “He was a big part of what we did here for over four years, and other than that, we can’t comment. It has been emotional, it has been challenging, at a personal level and at a program level.”

The investigation of the corruption ring had been underway since 2015. Evidence of the bribery was uncovered partly by the FBI agents working undercover who gained access to the corruption ring as financial backers and partners, according to an affidavit released by federal prosecutors.

Bland has been the associate head coach since 2014.

“I’m very confident about our program moving forward,” Enfield said last week. “We have tremendous staff and tremendous players in our program.”

Eric He contributed to this report.