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Published: Tuesday, 5/8/2007

Federal suspect on list for UT ticket

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McDougle McDougle
UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO Enlarge

A man named in a federal complaint for allegedly running an illegal point-shaving scheme involving a University of Toledo football player was included on a list of people offered tickets from football players to an Oct. 7, 2006, game.

Ghazi "Gary" Manni, of Sterling Heights, Mich., was offered a ticket to the game against Central Michigan but didn't attend, according to documents released yesterday by the University of Toledo.

His name appears in a list that includes tickets set aside for UT running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle's parents and brother. The name of the player they were guests of, as well as the names of all other football players and students, were redacted from the documents in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Mr. McDougle, 22, was charged March 29 with conspiring to influence outcomes of UT basketball and football games. Federal investigators recently dropped charges against him in a procedural move, but the point-shaving case remains active.

"The investigation is continuing," said Dawn Clenney, a spokesman for the FBI's Detroit office. "This is an ongoing matter. Where it takes us, I'm not sure."

She declined to comment further, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Gina Balaya, of the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, also said it continues to investigate the case.

The federal complaint alleges that Mr. McDougle recruited football and basketball players for Mr. Manni to keep the final score of games within a point spread they were betting on, so that they could collect winnings based on those results.

At least one football player was offered $10,000 to sit out a game, and players would be paid in "cash, merchandise, groceries, and other things of value" by Mr. Manni, according to the FBI.

Mr. McDougle told agents on Dec. 14 that Mr. Manni had given him cash, a car, and other items, but he denied changing his play during a football game to affect the outcome, the FBI said in the complaint.

When reached yesterday, Mr. McDougle's attorney said he had no information about his client getting game tickets for Mr. Manni. "It wouldn't surprise me if tickets went to a whole bunch of different people," James Burdick said.

Mr. Burdick said there are several possible reasons Mr. Manni's name appears on the list presumed to be guests of Mr. McDougle and that anybody could have asked him to get a ticket for Mr. Manni, he said.

"It almost certainly doesn't mean the person getting the tickets knows anything about the person [the ticket is for]," he said.

"Can you even begin to imagine how many people are pulling on guys like that for tickets?"

Mr. Burdick said Mr. McDougle and Mr. Manni knew each other, had contact, and were acquaintances.

The attorney representing Mr. Manni, Neil Fink of Birmingham, Mich., did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Each player on the UT football team gets four tickets per game to give to guests such as family and friends, but it's common for players to trade with each other for additional tickets for specific games.

For example, on the student's list that included the McDougle family members and Mr. Manni, there were 13 guests.

Players give university officials their lists of guests two days prior to the game and tickets are left for them at the admissions gate. The guests show identification, receive the ticket stub, and then watch the game.

Mr. McDougle remains suspended from the UT football team, but he has continued to be enrolled as a student and is still on scholarship.

University officials have said that if all charges against Mr. McDougle were dropped permanently, his status with the team could change.

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com or

419-724-6134.



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