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Published: Tuesday, 5/12/2009

Not-guilty pleas for Michigan man, former UT guard in point-shaving scheme

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT One of two Detroit-area gamblers charged with conspiring to fix horse races and University of Toledo games is also accused of committing bank fraud in a land deal.

Mitchell Ed Karam of Troy, a 76-year-old developer, appeared Tuesday in federal court in Detroit, nearly a week after he was named in two indictments that describe schemes to manipulate sporting events by paying a jockey and now-former Toledo basketball and football players.

He was joined in court by Kashif Payne, 24, of Chester, Pa., who left the basketball team in November 2007. Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of both men.

Looking tired, Karam often covered his face with his hands as he waited for his name to be called.

We contest the charges, defense lawyer Brian Legghio said outside court. We re going to examine the evidence very closely.

The evidence includes phone calls secretly recorded by the FBI, involving Karam, co-defendant Ghazi Gary Manni of Sterling Heights, jockey Ricardo Valdes and Toledo players.

Authorities say Karam and Manni bet $407,000 on Toledo basketball games in 2005 and 2006 and paid players to shave points to control the final score. Seven ex-players three in football and four in basketball have been charged.

In a separate case, Karam and Manni are charged with conspiring with Valdes to fix horse races, mostly at Tampa Bay Downs, from December 2005 through 2006.

It s not Karam s first brush with federal law enforcement. In April, he was charged with fraud after Macomb Community Bank accused him of not repaying $4 million in loans in the sale of 36 residential lots in suburban Detroit.

His personal spending included a $30,000 loan to Manni and a $115,400 check written to Hazel Park Raceway in suburban Detroit, the FBI said in a court filing.

Toledo described Payne as the quarterback of the basketball team before he departed in his senior season to deal with personal issues. The indictment says he spoke to Manni by phone at least five times in 2006, including three game days.



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