Ex-Arizona assistant coach pleads guilty to bribery charge

Ex-Arizona assistant coach pleads guilty to bribery charge
Book Richardson (Source: Arizona Athletics)

NEW YORK (AP) - Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson pleaded guilty to a bribery charge Tuesday in a prosecution that exposed corruption in college basketball recruiting.

Emanuel “Book” Richardson, 46, became the second former coach this month to plead guilty rather than go to trial in Manhattan federal court.

An emotional Richardson wiped tears from his eyes after telling Judge Edgardo Ramos that he accepted bribes in 2017 to entice his influence over players at Arizona.

He said he “knew this conduct was wrong.”

“Did you know it was against the law?” Ramos asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Richardson answered.

His plea follows the fall conviction of an Adidas executive and two recruiting insiders in a scandal that exposed a network of fledgling personal managers and advisers who paid bribes to coaches and parents of highly touted recruits to steer top athletes to schools.

Richardson, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, was among 10 people arrested in September 2017.

Richardson was accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes in exchange for influencing Wildcat basketball players to sign with certain agents and financial managers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Boone said Richardson accepted $5,000 in bribes during a meeting in Manhattan and another $15,000 during a meeting in New Jersey.

A plea agreement signed with prosecutors calls for Richardson to forfeit $20,000. It also includes an agreement that Richardson will not appeal any sentence of two years or less in prison.

Richardson’s lawyer, Craig Mordock, said outside court that the plea agreement does not include a cooperation deal.

Richardson had been scheduled to go on trial with former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans in April. Evans has pleaded not guilty.

Former Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person and another man are scheduled to go on trial June 17.

Earlier this month, former University of Southern California assistant basketball coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty to accepting $4,100 in cash to steer USC players to certain financial advisers and business managers.

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