Federal attorneys have dropped their case against University of Toledo football player Harvey Scooter McDougle in what a spokesman for the attorneys called a procedural move.
According to the motion filed this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Detroit, investigators need additional time to investigate the full extent of the offense(s) in question and identify all other individuals who should be held criminally responsible and to decide whether criminal prosecution of defendant for the offense(s) in question is in the public interest.
The allegations involve a point-shaving scheme involving University of Toledo basketball and football games. Although a federal complaint suggests several people were involved, only Mr. McDougle, a 22-year-old UT running back, had been charged so far.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Donald Scheer approved the prosecutor s request to drop the case.
Gina Balaya, spokesman for the U.S. attorney s office, called the move procedural and said Mr. McDougle most likely will be indicted at a later date.
Anyone who hears the charge has been dismissed will think the case is over, she said. No, it s a procedural matter. It allows the government additional time to investigate.
She said the motion included boiler plate language and she said dropped charges are not unusual in federal court.
An original complaint, she said, triggers the court process and assigns an attorney for the defendant. Dismissal allows the government more time to investigate before it presents the case to a grand jury, she said.
In federal court, U.S. attorneys have 30 days to present a case to a grand jury or file a bill of information once a defendant is arrested or given a summons to appear in court.
Mr. McDougle s attorney, James Burdick, agreed that the dismissal may be procedural. But he questioned why the government arrested Mr. McDougle if attorneys weren t ready to take the case to a grand jury.
A complaint might be filed before a case is ready for the grand jury if there s a sense of urgency the defendant poses a risk to public safety or is a flight risk, for example: It s difficult for me to understand why they did this in this case, he said.
But, he added, the government might have information in this case that it doesn t want to present yet to the grand jury because that information would then be available to Mr. McDougle.
Mr. McDougle, a University of Toledo running back who would be a fifth-year senior this fall, has been free on a $10,000 bond.
According to investigators, Mr. McDougle and others bribed Toledo athletes to influence the final scores of specific games so gamblers could place winning bets with illegal sports bookmakers.
The charge, conspiring to bribe to affect the outcome of a sporting event, carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Mr. McDougle was suspended from the UT football team when the university was informed about the FBI complaint.
Paul Helgren, UT assistant athletic director for media relations, said earlier today that if all of the charges against Mr. McDougle were dropped, it would likely change his status with the team.
But that hasn t happened yet, Mr. Helgren said this morning. We haven t gotten word from anyone that such a move has taken place, so as of right now, his status has not changed.
Toledo s spring practice schedule concluded on Monday.
Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, university president, said that he wasn t aware of a change in Mr. McDougle s status as a player or student following reports that the charge might be dropped. The university continues to cooperate with investigators, he said.
Mr. McDougle, he added, was never suspended as a student. He was suspended from the football team, and we constantly reassess such suspensions. But at this point, we don t react to [media reports].
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