College Hoops-Scandal Leaks Draw Foul Call From U.S. Prosecutors

(Bloomberg) -- A different type of March Madness found its way into New York federal court.

Federal prosecutors looking into bribery at the highest levels of college basketball protested leaks of court documents detailing payments to players, saying the premature disclosure of evidence could endanger their investigation. The revelation contributes to a cloud hanging over the sport just days before the field of teams for the national tournament is unveiled.

Assistant coaches, agents and sportswear company representatives have been charged with facilitating bribes and kickbacks to entice high school basketball players to join premier college programs. The indictments follow a three-year probe into National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball. The investigation was thrust back into the spotlight last week when Yahoo Sports reported that hundreds of pages of documents from the probe showed an "underground recruiting operation."

During a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Diskant called the leak "very, very concerning." He urged U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to look into the matter.

Defense attorneys denied that they were the source of the leaks and said the judge should investigate further. Michael Schachter, a lawyer for former Adidas AG executive James Gatto, said he had raised concerns with prosecutors that they had designated too many documents as confidential and urged Kaplan to push them to see if law enforcement was the source of the leak.

Kaplan told both sides to expect a revised order on procedures for confidential documents in order to not jeopardize the probe or a fair trial.

"This stops now," the judge said, "wherever it came from."

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