Former Auburn Player Varez Ward Indicted in Point-Shaving Scandal
Kyievarez “Varez” Ward has been indicted on two counts for his involvement in a point-shaving scandal during his time with the Auburn Tigers basketball program.
According to JoBeth Davis of WSFA 12, an NBC affiliate in Alabama, the point guard allegedly “conspired with others to bribe or solicit one or more individuals to influence a sporting contest, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.”
UPDATE: Thursday, June 6, at 1:08 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Varez Ward has pleaded not guilty after being accused of having a role in a point-shaving scandal at Auburn, according AL.com's Mike Cason.
Former Auburn basketball player Varez Ward this morning pleaded not guilty to accusations that he tried to fix the outcome of an Auburn basketball game.
His trial has been set for July 22.
---End of update---
For those who have been following this story since it broke last year, the indictment shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Per ESPN, the FBI was investigating Ward after the team suspended him and teammate Chris Denson in late February of last year for allegedly shaving points and intentionally playing poorly in order to alter the outcome of games for sports bettors.
The games in question are a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb. 7 and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25, per Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson's original report on the story.
Against the Crimson Tide, Ward notched only three points on 1-of-5 shooting while registering six turnovers in just 17 minutes. When the Tigers took on the Razorbacks, Ward played less than a minute but managed to register a turnover.
To make matters worse, Brandon Marcelo of AL.com is reporting that Ward attempted to pay his teammates to throw the game on behalf of bettors who have not been named. Per that report:
Prosecutors say Ward's scheme was to "make sure that Auburn ultimately lost the basketball game" against Arkansas. In doing so, prosecutors say, he attempted to recruit Auburn basketball players with money.
Denson was cleared of any wrongdoing shortly after his teammates and others were questioned about his involvement, but Ward remained suspended for the remainder of the 2012 regular season and SEC tournament. He is not currently enrolled at Auburn.
The university hasn’t released a statement on this matter, although the athletic department did comment after Ward’s initial suspension, as per ESPN:
Auburn officials were made aware of a rumor regarding an allegation two weeks ago and immediately reported it to the FBI, the NCAA and the SEC. Because of the nature of the allegation, Auburn is not in a position to make any further comment on the situation.
Opelika-Auburn News' Ryan Wood has more on Ward:
If convicted, Ward faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a period of supervised release of not more than three years, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s office...
...Ward was released on bond following his hearing Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. District Center for the Middle District of Alabama. The office did not disclose Ward’s bond amount to the Opelika-Auburn News. According to reports, his bond was set at $25,000.
Ward is set for an arraignment hearing at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Montgomery. He has not retained an attorney, according to the Federal Defender's Office.
Ward played one season (2011-12) for the Tigers after transferring from Texas, averaging 8.9 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 27.6 minutes of play.
Ward’s troubles come shortly after it was announced that former San Diego Toreros star Brandon Johnson will serve six months in prison for his involvement in altering the outcome of four games during the 2009-10 season, per CBS Sports.
Further information on Ward’s trial has not yet been made available, and no statement from the player has been made, although he has privately denied the allegations in the past.
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