Bland pleads not guilty to four charges in FBI case

Associate head men’s basketball coach Tony Bland had been charged with bribery and fraud last September. Photo by Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

Associate head men’s basketball coach Tony Bland pleaded not guilty to four charges on Wednesday after being arrested in an FBI bribery and corruption case in September.

The arraignment took place in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a week after Bland was indicted on charges that include bribery and wire fraud, along with seven other men.

Bland along with Lamont Evans, an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday, a day after Auburn’s Chuck Person and Arizona’s Emanuel “Book” Richardson did the same.

Bland allegedly took bribes from would-be sports agent Christian Dawkins and financial adviser Munish Sood and helped facilitate payments to two USC players or recruits that amounted to $9,000 in total.

Dawkins also pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, as well as Adidas executive Merl Code.

Bland’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, called the case “a waste of government resources” in an interview with the Los Angeles Times and said he did not know what the evidence was.

USC held sophomore guard  De’Anthony Melton out of the team’s first two games, releasing a statement that there were eligibility concerns surrounding the sophomore guard. Melton’s attorney, though, denied any wrongdoing and said that multiple investigations had cleared Melton.

Though some coaches from other schools involved in the investigation have been fired, Lichtman said that USC has treated Bland well.

“USC has been incredibly decent to him,” Lichtman said to the Times. “I don’t think the schools are following each other in lock step.”