ED WHITE,Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit-area businessman pleaded guilty Monday in a point-shaving investigation at the University of Toledo, admitting he bribed basketball players from 2004 to 2006 while placing bets on games.
Mitchell “Ed” Karam’s guilty plea also covered two other cases: the fixing of horse races at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida and Delaware Downs in Delaware in 2005 and 2006, and fraud in Detroit-area real estate deals.
Karam’s plea occurred nearly four years after he was indicted in the Toledo probe along with another gambler, Detroit businessman Ghazi “Gary” Manni. Prosecutors say they bet approximately $331,000 on basketball games.
Karam split the bribes — money, gifts, groceries and other favors — with Manni, according to his plea agreement. No dollar amount was disclosed.
“Mr. Karam made a regrettable mistake to associate with Ghazi Manni,” defense attorney Brian Legghio told The Associated Press. “He did not take any active role with the players. They primarily interacted with Mr. Manni.”
Manni plans to go to trial on March 12, along with former Toledo basketball players Anton Currie, Kashif Payne and Keith Triplett. Allegations of bribery also extend to the football team during the same period.
Three former running backs, Adam Cuomo, Harvey “Scooter” McDougle Jr. and Quinton Broussard, pleaded guilty in 2011. Broussard said he intentionally fumbled against Texas-El Paso in the 2005 GMAC Bowl. Former basketball player Sammy Villegas pleaded guilty in 2008. No one has received a sentence yet.
Karam, who turns 80 in April, has agreed to testify against Manni. Sentencing guidelines call for at least five years in prison, but a judge will have much flexibility. Karam could get a break depending on his cooperation with prosecutors.
The government’s evidence includes secretly recorded phone calls.
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