Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against 10 people, including four college basketball coaches and financial advisers, with bribery and fraud in connection with college recruiting in New York, U.S., September 26, 2017.
A key witness who cooperated with law enforcement officials in a bombshell federal corruption prosecution of college assistant basketball coaches, an Adidas executive and others is a crooked investment advisor and business manager for pro athletes, CNBC has learned.
The witness, Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III, signed a plea agreement last week to admit guilt to five federal criminal charges.
The Pittsburgh-based Blazer was accused of, among other things, investing more than $2 million in “client funds into movie and music ventures without authorization” of his clients, court documents say.
But Blazer also was accused of a 14-year-long wire fraud scheme in which he made “payments and loans to NCAA athletes in order to induce those student-athletes to retain the defendant as a financial advisor and/or business manager.”
A lawyer for Blazer, Martin Dietz, when asked for comment Tuesday said, “Officially, there is an ongoing investigation. I’m not prepared to comment about anything at this time.”
Blazer’s plea agreement in federal court in Manhattan came to light Tuesday as the FBI arrested 10 people, including four NCAA basketball coaches, from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California.
Court documents reveal that the alleged criminal conduct of two assistant coaches charged in the case, Chuck Connors Person of Auburn University and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, was exposed because Blazer was secretly working with federal authorities in their probe.
Law enforcement authorities said the assistant coaches accepted bribes in exchange for steering players to be represented by certain sports agents and to work with certain companies after turning pro.
Criminal complaints filed in New York refer to Blazer multiple times using the pseudonym CW-1, or “cooperating witness-1.”
One complaint accuses the Auburn University assistant coach Person of soliciting and obtaining more than $91,000 in bribes from Blazer in exchange for agreeing to steer certain players at that school to retain Blazer’s services after they entered the NBA. Those bribes were allegedly originally arranged by Rashan Michel, a former NBA official who now runs a clothing company.
Another complaint said the Oklahoma State assistant coach Evans solicited at least $22,000 from Blazer and Munish Sood, head of a financial advisory firm called Princeton Capital, in exchange for encouraging players to retain the services of Blazer and Sood.
A third coach, University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson, allegedly accepted $20,000 in bribes from two undercover law enforcement agents who were posing as financial backers of Blazer, according to court documents.