Ex-Auburn assistant Chuck Person pleads guilty in college basketball bribery scandal

Former Auburn assistant coach and 13-year NBA player Chuck Person pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in Manhattan federal court Tuesday in the latest chapter in the ongoing college basketball corruption scandal.

The 54-year-old Person, a former player for the Tigers who was voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 1987, was accused of accepting $91,500 in bribes to steer players with NBA potential to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser in late 2016 and early 2017. As part of his plea, Person was required to forfeit that amount.

“As he has now admitted, Chuck Person abused his position as a coach and mentor to student-athletes in exchange for personal gain,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “In taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, Person not only placed personal financial gain above his obligations to his employer and the student-athletes he coached, but he broke the law.”

Person is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska on July 9. His plea deal has a recommended sentencing guideline range of two to 2½ years in prison.

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The man nicknamed “The Rifleman” as a player due to his three-point shooting prowess was one of four former assistant coaches to be charged in connection with the investigation and the fourth to plead guilty. Former USC assistant coach Tony Bland, ex-Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson and former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans are also awaiting sentencing.

Their prison terms are likely to be measured in months rather than years.

Prosecutors said Person arranged multiple meetings between the financial adviser and Auburn players or their family members.

Prosecutors said he failed to tell families and players he was being bribed to recommend the financial adviser.

In one recorded conversation, prosecutors said, Person warned an Auburn player to keep his relationship with the financial adviser a secret.

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According to prosecutors, Person said: “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, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships.”

Neither Person nor his attorney had any comment for reporters after the hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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