Benjamin Bifalco Allegedly Attempted to Fix a Division I College Basketball Game

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2019

A basketball with a logo is seen before a first round men's college basketball game between Minnesota and Louisville in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

The Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed an indictment of Benjamin Bifalco last week accusing him of attempting to fix a Division I college basketball game in Dec. 2018, according to David Purdum of ESPN.

Per the indictment, the 25-year-old Bifalco offered players on the undisclosed team "thousands of dollars to intentionally lose the game."

Bifalco, who was charged with attempted sports bribery, was heard on a wiretap discussing the potential scheme with Joseph Amato Jr., who was one of 20 defendants arrested Thursday in a "wide-ranging investigation targeting the Colombo crime family."

Per that report:

"On a series of intercepted calls, Bifalco laid out his plans to fix the unidentified game and encouraged Amato Jr. to place thousands of dollars in bets on the game, according to the indictment. Amato sent two texts to defendant Thomas Scorcia before the targeted game: 'Ok I wouldn't trust the game I was tell u about' and 'I'm not touching it personally,' the government filing stated."

The NCAA released the following statement on the matter:

"Today's indictment and arrest of an individual for attempting to fix the outcome of a December 2018 college basketball game reinforces that game-manipulation threats and risks are real and ever-present. We are actively monitoring the situation, which is a part of the criminal process, and will respond accordingly if it is determined that NCAA rules were violated."

Match-fixing and point-shaving scandals remain a major concern around the world, including for NCAA sports. In Spain, over 40 people have been accused of match-fixing—including 36 players—in a probe of a 2011 match between La Liga clubs Levante and Zaragoza, with prosecutors claiming that Levante players were paid around $1 million to throw the contest.

Auburn point guard Varez Ward was arrested in June 2013 on charges of bribery and conspiracy. He was accused of attempting to point shave in a 2012 game against Arkansas.