Biggest Sports Betting Scandals in US History: Toledo University (2004-2006)
This particular sports betting scandal investigation lasted over a decade and, despite it taking place at a college, remains to be one of the biggest sports betting scandals to ever occur in the US.
The University of Toledo is a public research college in Toledo, Ohio. The college was founded in 1872 and the infamous points-shaving sports betting scandal took place on college grounds between 2004 and 2006.
How Did They Do It?
The plan commenced when two former University of Toledo athletes accepted money from a Detroit gambler to fix their game scores. Then came the spring of 2009, when a federal grand jury in Detroit charged seven Toledo college athletes – four basketball players and three football players – in a point-shaving scam alongside two businessmen.
In organized sports, point-shaving is where (most commonly) a gambler will try to change the final score of a game, without changing the overall outcome of who wins or loses, by bribing players.
Two gamblers, Ghazi Manni and Mitchell Edward Karam, as well as seven former University of Toledo athletes were sentenced by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit sports bribery and were later charged.
During this case, Manni and Karam bribed the athletes from the University of Toledo to attempt to influence the scores of particular football and basketball games.
Tripping Over Tapped Wires
The two gamblers received 20 indictment charges that occurred between December 2004 and December 2006, with 17 of those indictments being on Toledo basketball games.
The schemers tripped up when federal investigators tapped into the phones of the orchestrators and found 133 phone calls, between those involved in the case and Manni, discussing the point-shaving scheme(s).
The filed indictment alleges Manni and Karam bet approximately $407,500 on Toledo football and basketball games between November 2005 and December 2006.
Who Was Involved?
This ringleader was the money man behind the mind and the magic of this operation. Manni was also partly responsible for the sinking ship, as if nothing was ever on phone record maybe they wouldn’t have gotten busted!
Mitchell Edward Karam
Karam was perceived to be the mind behind the operation and back in the 1970s he was identified as an alleged co-conspirator during a federal crackdown on a sports gambling syndicate in Detroit, although he was never actually charged.
Cuomo was a former running back and admitted to being an integral figure in the point-shaving scheme by helping to recruit the other players. Cuomo was handed three years probation with a $3,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
Villegas was a Rockets footballer and he was the first athlete to get sentenced. A court filing revealed that Villegas received $300-$400 each time Manni won a fixed Toledo match. In 2006, he purposefully missed two free throws and tried to hold the ball to alter the final score of a 78-62 victory over Central Michigan.
This former hometown basketball player from Toledo, Triplett, received and delivered between $2,000 and $5,000 to other players.
The former basketball player was one of the first of the athletes to get charged alongside Villegas. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service. He didn’t play as big a role as Villegas but would still accept from $1,000 to $2,000 in cash for his participation in the scheme.
For his participation, the former basketball player was paid less than $2,000 in cash as well as some groceries.
Harvey McDougle Jr
McDougle Jr denied any wrongdoing after being charged in connection with attempting to match fix, with the charge being dropped on a procedural matter. McDougle was given probation for two years, with drug testing, along with a $1,000 fine.
A former running back from Texas admitted, under oath, that he deliberately messed up during the 2005 GMAC Bowl. Broussard was sentenced to one year probation with a $1,000 fine and 25 hours of community service. He is alleged to have received over $2,000 in cash and goods.
In June 2015, the ringleader, Manni was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $700,000 and to forfeit $700,000 to the Government.
Karam was the last of the nine people, found to be participating in the scheme, to be sentenced. He was sentenced to two years in prison and was to serve three years of supervised release.
It’s Alright For Some…
Meanwhile, as far as punishments go, the players got let off lightly - especially in comparison to Manni and Karam - and all seven college athletes received probation because they were cooperative with the FBI and the authorities.
Mark Goldsmith, the US District Judge in the case, said he decided to sentence the athletes to probation over prison because they all had no previous criminal record.
However, Manni’s retribution wasn’t just for the college scandal it also included being caught up in other nefarious matters such as bribing jockeys to fix a horse race, pleading guilty to paying cash for food stamps, as well as for unlawfully possessing a gun and ammunition; a crime he had previously been arrested for.
Getting Off Lightly
Prior to this points-shaving scheme, the most infamous one would be the 1919 World Series of Baseball when eight members of the Chicago White Sox were suspended for life from baseball after taking bribes to fix the championship.
Despite the harsh punishments given to their fellow bribe taking athlete predecessors, these college boys got off very lightly. However, this remains to be the latest points-shaving scandal in college history so let’s hope it stays that way!