A former University of Toledo basketball player has been charged by federal officials in Detroit with accepting bribes for point-shaving Rocket games.
The charge against Sammy Villegas, a native of Puerto Rico, stem from the Rocket's 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons.
"It was part of the conspiracy that Samuel Aviles Villegas and other persons known and unknown to the United States Attorney, did agree upon and carry into effect a 'point shaving' scheme to 'fix' University of Toledo men's basketball games," according to the federal charges, first filed in June.
"[Villegas] did accept the payment of money and other things of value, in exchange for using his ability as a player to control events on the basketball court during games to attempt to ensure that the University of Toledo basketball team would score a certain number of points determined by the point spread," stated the charges against the former player.
Villegas, according to federal officials, met with "a conspirator" on Nov.
30, Dec. 12, Dec. 16, and Dec. 22, 2005, and on Jan. 11, 2006, in Hamtramck, Mich., and in Detroit, and made or received four telephone calls from Jan.
26 through Feb. 4, 2006, to the same person.
"On or about February, 4, 2006, [Villegas] played in the men's basketball game in Toledo, Ohio between teams from the University of Toledo and Central [Michigan] University, and during the game intentionally missed two free throw attempts," the federal charges stated.
The charge also stated that Villegas acted "as an intermediary in paying money to another University of Toledo men's basketball team member who was a participant in the conspiracy."
If convicted, Villegas faces five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. He remains free on a $10,000 bond.
Larry Burns, UT vice president for enrollment, marketing and communications, said the university will cooperate with the investigation "if we're asked to and if authorities need information.
"Beyond that, we don't see us playing a role at this time as a university or athlete department. We didn't find out about this until today [Wednesday].
"Our initial reaction is of concern for the player and his family."
Villegas, a shooting guard, made the Mid-American Conference All-Freshman team for the 2002-2003 season and was named Freshman of the Year.
Villegas graduated from UT in 2006 with a bachelor of science degree in "individual programs" from the University College. He has turned pro and plays guard or forward for the Los Cocolos de San Pedro Macoris, in the Dominican Republic.