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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2007

Feds will not indict McDougle, father says

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The father of Harvey "Scooter" McDougle, Jr., says his son will not be indicted by federal prosecutors in an alleged point-shaving case.

And the University of Toledo football player's grandmother wants him to be reinstated on the Rockets' team.

Mr. McDougle, 22, of East Cleveland is a UT running back who has been suspended from the team since March because of his alleged involvement in a point-shaving scheme.

According to his father, Mr. McDougle met with federal prosecutors again Wednesday and was told by his attorney that he would not be indicted or forced to testify against his teammates.

Meanwhile, Mr. McDougle's grandmother, Barbara McDougle, of Cleveland, has been peppering university President Lloyd Jacobs with petitions to have her grandson reinstated on the football team.

She said she sent him a letter in early May and an e-mail yesterday, both chastising Dr. Jacobs because Mr. McDougle's suspension has not been lifted.

Mr. McDougle was charged March 29 in U.S. District Court in Detroit with betting on a UT football game and recruiting other university football and men's basketball players to engage in point-shaving.

In exchange, the complaint alleged, these players received cash, cars, and were entertained by a Detroit gambler at a Detroit casino.

If convicted, Mr. McDougle could have faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Those charges were dropped April 18, but attorneys for both sides said at the time the case against Mr. McDougle was far from over.

The player's father, Harvey McDougle, Sr., said yesterday that his son has been cooperating with the investigation.

"They don't have any evidence against him," the elder Mr. McDougle told The Blade. "All they have are some phone conversations with people asking him if he's going to play and are they going to win. As far as I know, there never was a phone conversation of Scooter betting on a game or someone asking Scooter to throw a game."

Mr. McDougle's attorney, James Burdick, denied telling anyone the UT football player would not be indicted in this case.

However, Mr. Burdick said Mr. McDougle is not guilty of any gambling charge.

"My guy is innocent," Mr. Burdick said. "He has not fixed any games and is not guilty of shaving points in any games."

When asked if Mr. McDougle was guilty of anything else, Mr. Burdick replied: "My client has not fixed any games."

Ms. McDougle said her grandson's suspension from the football team should've ended once the initial charges were dropped.

She accused Dr. Jacobs and the university in her initial letter of not supporting Mr. McDougle while being accused, but not proven guilty, of a crime, and ripped the president in yesterday's e-mail for not responding to her letter.

"Your lack of response only solidifies my belief that the University of Toledo was definitely not the right choice for Scooter," Ms. McDougle wrote in her e-mail to Dr. Jacobs, which was obtained by The Blade.

Ms. McDougle also wrote later in that e-mail: "Your silence further indicates that you could care less about the life of a young man who has remained faithful and loyal to the school ."

UT spokesman Tobin Klinger said Dr. Jacobs was contemplating how to respond to Ms. McDougle's letter.

Her grandson is still enrolled in school and is on scholarship, but Mr. Klinger said Mr. McDougle's status with the football team hasn't changed because the federal investigation is ongoing.

To that end, Ms. McDougle said her family has been led to believe that her grandson will not face any further gambling charges.

"Scooter doesn't know anything about gambling, period," Ms. McDougle said. "I'm the gambler in the family, not him. And I play bingo and the lottery."

Gina Bayala, a spokesman for the U.S. attorneys in Detroit, declined to comment except to say that the investigation was continuing.

The federal complaint filed in March alleged that Mr. McDougle participated in a point-shaving scheme operated by Ghazi "Gary" Manni, of Sterling Heights, Mich., from the fall of 2003 [Mr. McDougle's freshman year] through last winter.

The complaint accused Mr. McDougle of recruiting UT football and basketball players who would keep the final scores of games within a certain point spread for Mr. Manni, who would bet on those games.

The FBI said at least one player was offered $10,000 to sit out a game, and several players received "cash, a car, a phone, and other things of value" from Mr. Manni.

Federal agents also accused Mr. McDougle of asking Mr. Manni to place a $2,000 bet for him on UT's game against Texas-El Paso in the 2005 GMAC Bowl. Mr. McDougle sat out that game because of injuries, and the Rockets defeated their opponent 45-13.

According to the indictment, on Dec. 14, Mr. McDougle told federal agents that Mr. Manni had given him cash, a car, and other items, which is likely a violation of NCAA rules.

But the UT athlete denied changing his play to affect the outcome of a football game, according to the federal complaint.

Mr. McDougle, Sr., said his son is keeping himself in shape and hopes to play for the Rockets this season, which begins Sept. 1 in a nationally televised home game against Purdue. If reinstated, Mr. McDougle would be a senior for the Rockets this season.

Contact Joe Vardon

at jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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