DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area man pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribing players to fix basketball and football games nearly a decade ago at the University of Toledo in Ohio, the ninth and final conviction in the case.
Ghazi “Gary” Manni also cleared two other cases: paying bribes to fix horse races in Florida and Delaware in 2005-06 and committing food stamp fraud while running King Cole, a Detroit grocery store.
The Toledo indictment was filed in 2009, but the case has moved slowly in federal court in Detroit. Two former basketball players, Keith Triplett and Kashif Payne, pleaded guilty to conspiracy before Manni entered the courtroom.
In total, seven former Rockets have pleaded guilty over the last few years, along with Manni and his gambling partner, Mitchell “Ed” Karam. No one has been sentenced yet.
Manni, 57, admitted bribing Toledo players from 2004 to 2006 to influence the final score, especially in basketball. The margin of victory plays a role in sports bets. A court filing lists more than $300,000 in bets, but the government said there were more.
“The players provided insider information about their teams, such as injury reports, and agreed to alter their performances to affect the outcome of games,” Manni’s plea agreement states. “They did this to help Mr. Manni and Karam win bets placed on the games, in exchange for money, groceries and other items of value.”
Payne, a guard on the basketball team, said he received less than $2,000 and groceries to affect scores during the 2005-06 season. Triplett, who played basketball from 2001 through 2005, said he never met Manni but took cash that was passed by another player.
Manni answered a long series of yes-or-no questions from U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith but didn’t elaborate on why he chose to tamper with college sports.
He’s likely to get a prison sentence of nearly six years when he returns to court on Feb. 24. He’s been in custody since summer 2013 and will get credit for any time behind bars.
He also faces an identical sentence in another case. A jury last year convicted him of being an ex-convict in possession of a gun. Manni’s criminal record stretches to the early 1990s. His sentences will run at the same time.
Another ex-basketball player, Anton Currie, pleaded guilty in November. Three former running backs, Adam Cuomo, Harvey “Scooter” McDougle Jr. and Quinton Broussard, pleaded guilty in 2011. Former basketball player Sammy Villegas was the first to plead guilty in 2008 before a grand jury indictment was filed.
Broussard said he intentionally fumbled against Texas-El Paso in the 2005 GMAC Bowl. Under sentencing guidelines, the ex-Rockets mostly face up to six months in custody, although the judge will have flexibility to come up with a lighter sentence.
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