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DETROIT — Former University of Toledo football player Quinton Broussard admitted Thursday that he purposely fumbled the ball in a 2005 bowl game in exchange for $500.
The admission came as Broussard pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to influence sporting events by bribery after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Broussard, 27, is the fourth former Rocket to plead guilty in a point-shaving and bribery scheme that allegedly involved seven UT athletes and two Detroit-area gamblers, Ghazi “Gary” Manni and Mitchell Karam.
Standing before U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook, Jr., Broussard admitted to accepting more than $2,000 in cash and free groceries from Manni in exchange for inside information on the Rockets from 2004-06. Broussard was a four-year letterman at running back for UT.
Broussard also admitted to accepting $500 for intentionally fumbling in the 2005 GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., with the intent of affecting the outcome of the contest. The Rockets defeated Texas-El Paso 45-13 in the bowl game. Broussard’s fumble came late in the first half, with UT holding a small lead.
After his plea hearing Thursday, Broussard declined to discuss his involvement in the point-shaving scheme or his fumble in the second quarter of the GMAC Bowl.
“I don’t remember the game,” said Broussard, who resides in Dallas. “You’ll have to go back and look at the [game] film.”
During the court proceeding, Broussard admitted to attempting to recruit another UT football player to participate in the point-shaving scheme in the bowl game, although he and authorities declined to identify that player.
Broussard also admitted to trying to persuade UT football players on behalf of Manni to fix UT’s football game at Iowa State on Aug. 31. The Rockets lost that contest 45-43.
In typical point-shaving arrangements, players agree to influence a contest’s score in exchange for money.
While he didn’t excuse his client’s “horrible judgment,” defense attorney Sanford Plotkin maintained that Broussard and the other former UT athletes were “victimized” by Manni.
“I’ve gotten to know Quinton Broussard quite well, and he’s a good kid, a good person,” Mr. Plotkin said outside the courtroom. “It’s a horrible tragedy that these college students were preyed upon by a vulture bettor, who knew how vulnerable they were financially, and he took full advantage of that.”
Broussard told Judge Cook that he was introduced to Manni through his former teammate and roommate, Harvey “Scooter” McDougle, at a Greek restaurant in Detroit in 2004.
After that, Broussard continued to meet with Manni at Detroit casinos and restaurants, where Manni gave him cash for gambling and paid for meals and drinks.
“I can tell you that [the former UT athletes] didn’t get very much from him,” Mr. Plotkin said. “Manni was very cheap when it came to his players/victims.”
Broussard is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 1, but that could be delayed depending on the progress of the case against the two gamblers and the rest of the accused UT athletes.
U.S. assistant district attorney David Morris told The Blade last month after McDougle pleaded guilty to the same charge as Broussard that sentencing for the former UT athletes would be postponed until Manni goes to trial or pleads guilty.
Another former UT running back, Adam Cuomo, who has admitted to hatching the point-shaving plot with Manni, pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to influence sporting events by bribery.
In a separate but related case, former UT basketball player Sammy Villegas reached a plea agreement and pleaded guilty in 2008 to shaving points and recruiting others to join the scheme and is also awaiting sentencing.
“These plea agreements are made with the understanding there will be cooperation by the defendants, and part of the determination of the value of their cooperation is testimony at a trial,” Mr. Morris said.
A status conference in the case against Manni, Karam, and the other accused athletes is scheduled for Sept. 6.
The three remaining UT athletes who have not reached plea agreements are former basketball players Keith Triplett, Kashif Payne, and Anton Currie.
Each of the former UT athletes who has pleaded guilty could face up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine upon sentencing.
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