Federal prosecutors ask that Tony Bland, former men’s basketball coach, face jail up to a year in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in January, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Bland admitted to accepting a $4,100 bribe in July 2017 which was offered by an undercover FBI agent pretending to be an investor. In exchange for the money, Bland agreed to direct USC players to a sports management company run by two men: Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood. Bland pled guilty after striking a deal with prosecutors.
In a memorandum to Judge Edgardo Ramos, who is in charge of the case, prosecutors wrote that Bland may have received a substantially larger amount of money in bribes if they had not stepped in. It also emphasized Bland’s self-interest in the crime, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Instead of being a role model for these students, the defendant’s conduct demonstrated a blatant disregard for not just the rules, but also his students’ own well-being, as he made efforts to steer them to Dawkins, an inexperienced and underqualified athlete-advisor with a track record of alleged fraud and partners who neither knew anything about,” the prosecutors wrote.
In a letter to Ramos, Bland’s attorney Jeffrey Lichtman wrote that Bland’s “life filled with extraordinary good deeds” had been “marred by his criminal actions.”
“He is the rare defendant who has given so much to others — when no one was watching, when he had no need to impress a judge deciding his fate,” Lichtman wrote.
Lichtman pointed out Bland’s lack of a criminal record and the option of community service as reasons for probation, rather than prison.
Notably, three of the other men involved in the FBI investigation — Dawkins, former Adidas employee Merl Code, and Adidas employee Jim Gatto — were sentenced to between six and nine months each, although they were involved with much higher sums of money.
Bland is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29.