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James Gatto, Christian Dawkins, Merl Code Sentenced to Prison Terms in CBB Trial

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2019

Former Adidas executive James Gatto arrives to court for sentencing in New York, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Federal prosecutors have recommended multi-year prison sentences for Gatto and two other men convicted of fraud for channeling secret payments to the families of top-tier basketball recruits to influence where the players went to school. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

James Gatto, Christian Dawkins and Merl Code—who were found guilty of felony wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in October for their part in a broad college basketball pay-for-play plot—were sentenced to prison time Tuesday.

According to Pete Brush of Law360, Gatto was sentenced to nine months, while Dawkins and Code each received six-month sentences. The judge in the case also addressed former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino:

Pete Brush @PeteBrush

Judge Kaplan addresses Rick Pitino, says #HoopsTrial dfdts were trying to cover Pitino's tracks "to the extent that they could" and give ex-Louisville coach "plausible deniability."

Pete Brush @PeteBrush

Judge Kaplan says sentences should be "a great big warning light to the basketball world." #HoopsTrial

Gatto previously worked for Adidas and Code was a consultant for the company, while Dawkins worked for NBA agent Andy Miller, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com. The three were found guilty of paying the families of college basketball prospects if the players attended schools that had apparel deals with Adidas and then signed sponsorship deals with the company upon turning pro.

U.S. Attorney Robert S. Khuzami released a statement in October after that ruling:

"Today's convictions expose an underground culture of illicit payments, deception and corruption in the world of college basketball. These defendants now stand convicted of not simply flouting the rules but breaking the law for their own personal gain. As a jury has now found, the defendants not only deceived universities into issuing scholarships under false pretenses, they deprived the universities of their economic rights and tarnished an ideal which makes college sports a beloved tradition by so many fans all over the world."

Amongst the allegations was that the trio assisted in paying the father of Brian Bowen $100,000, Billy Preston's mother $90,000 and Silvio De Sousa's guardian $20,000. De Sousa was deemed ineligible for both this season and next by the NCAA in early February, a controversial decision.

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"In my 30-plus years of coaching college basketball, I have never witnessed such a mean-spirited and vindictive punishment against a young man who did nothing wrong," Kansas head coach Bill Self said after the ruling. "To take away his opportunity to play college basketball is shameful and a failure of the NCAA."

The attorney for Gatto, Michael Schachter, said during the trial that coaches like Self and Pitino were aware of the payments and that Self had requested them on behalf of the families involved. 

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