Ex-Auburn assistant coach Chuck Person to plead guilty

NEW YORK — Former Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person is scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday to a conspiracy charge in a scandal that involved bribes paid to families of NBA-bound young athletes to steer them to top schools and favored money managers and agents.

The change-of-plea hearing was revealed in a filing late Friday by prosecutors in Manhattan federal court.

Person was scheduled to go to trial in June. He will be the fourth and final assistant coach from a major college basketball program charged in the case to change his plea.

His plea deal is expected to be roughly the same as that offered to the other coaches with a recommended sentencing guideline range of two to 2 ½ years in prison.

His lawyer, Theresa Trzaskoma, declined comment.

Person, former associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In the criminal case announced in September 2017, Person was charged with accepting about $91,500 in bribes from a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser to steer clients to him when they reached the NBA. Some payments were alleged to have been arranged by a former NBA referee turned high-end clothier.

Person was quoted by prosecutors as telling one player: "The most important part is that you ... don't say nothing to anybody ... don't share with your sisters, don't share with any of the teammates, that's very important 'cause this is a violation ... of rules. But this is how the NBA players get it done."

Tony Bland, a former Southern California assistant coach; ex-Arizona assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson; and former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in similar plea deals that avoided trials.

The criminal case has left an impression on college basketball, which is at the start of its tournament season known as March Madness.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has said an independent enforcement body to adjudicate major infractions cases could be in place by August.

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