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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2008

Sentencing delayed for ex-Rocket Villegas


Sentencing in the point-shaving case against former University of Toledo basketball player Sammy Villegas has been pushed back from next week to March 26, according to court documents.

Villegas' sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit was scheduled for Nov. 18. Charged on June 30 with accepting bribes to shave points in a 2006 game, Villegas waived an indictment hearing by signing an information document - a sign he has already reached a plea agreement.

The delay in the sentencing was filed on Friday, according to court documents obtained by The Blade.

Phone messages left at the U.S. District Attorney's office in Detroit and for John Belanger, Villegas' attorney, were not returned. Allen County Common Pleas Judge Richard Warren, Villegas' former guardian, also did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The charges against Villegas stem from a wide-ranging federal investigation into point-shaving and bribery on the UT football and men's basketball teams. Authorities say Villegas met with conspirators and accepted gifts in return for shaving points and acting as an intermediary for unnamed teammates to commit the same crime during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 basketball seasons, his junior and senior years at UT.

If convicted, Villegas could face a five-year prison term and/or a $250,000 fine. The only other person known to be charged in this ongoing investigation is former Rockets football player Harvey "Scooter" McDougle in March of 2007, but those charges were dropped and have not been re-filed.

As of last summer, Villegas was in the Dominican Republic playing basketball professionally for Cocolos of San Pedro de Macoris.

- Joe Vardon

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