Former Arizona assistant Emanuel “Book” Richardson, who is facing federal bribery charges as part of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball corruption, has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, his attorney told ESPN on Monday.
Richardson and two other former assistants — USC’s Tony Bland and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans — were accused of accepting bribes to steer players toward certain financial advisers and business managers once they turned pro.
Last week, Bland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and admitted he accepted $4,100 to steer players. He is scheduled for sentencing April 2, though he likely won’t be jailed and will serve his sentence through probation.
Evans is accused of accepting at least $22,000 in bribe money while coaching at South Carolina and Oklahoma State.
Richardson, who is facing 18 to 24 months in prison, is accused of taking at least $20,000.
“Throughout his career in basketball, Book Richardson has been a net positive to the game,” Richardson’s attorney, Craig Mordock, told ESPN in a statement. “Through his encouragement and dedication, he has affected the lives of many who have had successful careers in and out of basketball. He accepts that he was wrong in this case. His actions with respect to the matter are something he did, not who he is.”
It wasn’t immediately known if Evans accepted a plea deal or will go to trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in April. His attorney, Billy Martin, didn’t immediately respond to inquiries.
Sources told ESPN that the defendants had until Monday to accept the plea deals.
Two other defendants indicted in the federal case — former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Christian Dawkins, a runner for former NBA agent Andy Miller — are preparing to go to trial in April.
“None of this changes our approach,” said Steven Haney, Dawkins’ attorney. “Our level of fight is not going to change because of what other people do. That’s not how I am, and that’s not how Christian is. I believe there is conduct in this case that is not charged in the indictment and that needs to come out. We want the truth to come out, and it will come out.”
Code, Dawkins and Adidas executive James Gatto were convicted of federal fraud charges in October for funneling money from Adidas to the parents and/or guardians of high-profile recruits to steer them to sign with Adidas-sponsored schools, including Kansas, Louisville and NC State. They are scheduled for sentencing March 5.
In the second case, Dawkins and Code are accused of bribing the assistant coaches to influence their players.
Former Auburn assistant Chuck Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel are scheduled to go to trial in June. Person is accused of soliciting and accepting $91,500 in bribes from an undercover cooperating witness to influence Auburn players to sign with certain financial advisers.