Undercover Informant in NCAA Corruption Probe Avoids Prison

(Bloomberg) -- The Pittsburgh-area money manager whose cooperation helped the U.S. win 10 criminal convictions in a college basketball corruption probe will avoid prison for his own crimes, after a federal judge ordered him to serve a year of probation.

Louis Martin “Marty” Blazer III was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York, about six years after Blazer told investigators he had stolen from clients to fund failing investments in two movies and a country music project.

After that, he began working undercover, meeting with contacts all over the country while wearing a recording device and sometimes delivering illicit payments.

“There is no justification or excuse for my actions” with client funds, Blazer told the judge during an hour-long sentencing hearing, his voice breaking with emotion. “I take 100% responsibility for every terrible decision I made that brought me here today.”

Ramos credited Blazer’s “unusual” level of cooperation during the three-year probe, which included paying for his own travel at the start of the investigation and taking on the risk of recording phone calls and meetings. Ramos ordered Blazer to pay $1.6 million in restitution and to forfeit $2.4 million.

“The end result of Blazer’s cooperation was arguably the biggest and most significant federal investigation and prosecution of corruption in college athletics,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

Federal prosecutors in September 2017 unveiled charges against 10 coaches, managers, financial advisers and representatives of sportswear companies including Adidas AG, accusing them of making illicit payments to cash in on the vast riches generated at the sport’s highest levels.

Undercover Informant

Blazer, initially identified by the government only as “Cooperating Witness 1,” acted as an undercover informant throughout the investigation. He pleaded guilty to stealing from clients and bribing college athletes to win their business once they turned pro.

The schemes involved illicit payoffs to steer young athletes to National Collegiate Athletic Association schools with powerhouse sports programs and into clothing contracts and financial advisory deals.

Among those charged were current and former assistant coaches at Oklahoma State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Southern California and the University of South Carolina. Perhaps the most prominent defendant convicted in the case was Chuck Person, a former National Basketball Association star and later associate head coach at Auburn University.

The case is U.S. v. Blazer, 17-cr-00563, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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