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Ex-USD star figures in sports bribery indictment

- Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2011

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A former University of San Diego star basketball player, another former player and a former assistant coach were charged with running a sports betting business to affect the outcome of games, federal authorities said Monday.

The indictment names Brandon Johnson, the school's all-time leading scorer who finished his college career last year, Thaddeus Brown, an assistant coach at the school in the 2006-07 season, and Brandon Dowdy, who played at USD in the 2006-07 season and at the University of California, Riverside, from 2008 to 2010. Seven other people were also charged.

Authorities did not say how the alleged scheme worked and said they were trying to determine its scope, including the number of games allegedly involved.

The indictment alleges that Johnson, 24, took a bribe to influence a USD game in February 2010 and solicited someone else this January to affect the outcome of USD basketball games while playing for the Dakota Wizards, a development team for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy didn't name the USD opponent in the February 2010 game, saying only that Johnson was the school's starting point guard at the time.

Johnson "was intricately involved in both the illegal gambling business and in the sports bribery schemes," Duffy said at a news conference.

There was no attorney listed for Johnson in court documents.

The indictment, handed up Friday by a federal grand jury in San Diego and unsealed Monday, alleges that Brown, 32, of El Cajon, and Dowdy, 22, of San Diego, solicited someone to affect the outcome of a game in February. Authorities said the game was at the University of California, Riverside.

Authorities said USD was fully cooperating and was not accused of any wrongdoing. Duffy and Keith Slotter, head of the FBI's San Diego office, met Monday with school officials.

"They are rightly concerned," Duffy said. "They were very responsive and cooperative and it was a good meeting."

USD, a small, Catholic school that plays in the West Coast Conference, said it informed the NCAA of the probe on Monday.

"These are very serious allegations and the university is fully cooperating with the investigation," President Mary Lyons said.

The investigation evolved from a probe of a marijuana distribution operation that began about a year ago, Slotter said.

The 10 people are charged with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conduct an illegal gambling business and distribute marijuana. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines.

Nine of the 10 were arrested, including Johnson, who was taken into custody Saturday in Houston. Seven other arrests were made Monday in the San Diego area. One person remained at large.

Johnson, who finished his college career as USD's all-time leading scorer with 1,790 points, was on the team that stunned Connecticut in overtime in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament, the biggest win in school history. USD finished 22-14 that season, and has struggled ever since under coach Bill Grier. It finished 6-24 last season.

Johnson averaged 6.1 points a game this season for the Dakota Wizards. The team wrapped up its season April 4.

Scott Woodmansee, a spokesman for the Dakota Wizards, said the Bismarck, N.D., team had no comment. He had no contact information for Johnson.

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AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.

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