It Didn’t Stay Here: New York trial for Las Vegas sports payoffs

Las Vegas sports payoffsUpdated on May 8, 2019, and again on October 3, 2019. See end of post.

I can hardly wait for the movie version.

According to testimony in an ongoing New York bribery trial involving college basketball players, corrupt sports agent Christian Dawkins was in a fancy blue-hued suite at the fancy Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas in July 2017. He had to get an $11,000 cash payoff to a Texas A&M player whom he hoped to rep–fast. So he and several others went to a store in the Cosmo, bought a pair of sports shoes, stuffed the bills into the shoes, wrapped the shoe box and shipped it via FedEx, also from the hotel.

What happens here, stays here, they like to say in Las Vegas. Don’t believe it. It’s only a marketing slogan, anyway, dreamed up by a vendor for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau as a cheeky way of promoting the, ah, attractions of Sin City.

And the premise is often false–so often, in fact, that I have started a list, It Didn’t Stay Here. It consists of individuals in trouble somewhere else for something that happened in Las Vegas. You can see the full list nearby. Why, it even includes Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Dawkins is now nominated to the list, along with a slew of assistant college basketball coaches implicated in testimony as doing something untoward in Las Vegas, like taking envelopes full of cash for players Dawkins hopes to represent (a big no-no in the supposedly amateur world of college sports). They include Tony Bland of USC ($13,000), Preston Murphy of Creighton ($6,000), Corey Barker of TCU (also $6,000) and Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans ($4,500).

I am basing this post on voluminous media coverage of the ongoing trial in New York federal court.

Dawkins and a co-defendant also on trial, Merl Code, were convicted last year of bribing the families of promising college recruits still in high school. They pleaded not guilty in this trial involving payments to promising pro players still in college, apparently arguing that everyone knows college basketball involves a lot of money and no matter how questionable their actions, they didn’t violate any federal law. “This whole idea that this is an amateur world is not real,” Dawkins, 26, testified in his own defense this week. “I never paid a coach with the intent of bribing or influencing anyone.”

The problem for Dawkins (as well as the others) is that there is a lot of video and audio conversations recorded by the FBI, and it’s being played in court. There’s also recorded stuff that happened on a yacht docked in New York Harbor. “I’ve never heard of a story where two guys get on a yacht where it turn out good,” Dawkins’s lawyer, Steve Haney, told The Wall Street Journal. As a trial reporter long before becoming New To Las Vegas, I can tell you that very few recorded defendants walk free.

But maybe Dawkins, who seems to have a certain amount of charisma, someday can play himself in the movie. Maybe even shot on location along the Strip.

UPDATE ON MAY 8, 2019:

After a two-week trial, that federal court jury in New York today convicted Dawkins on two of the six counts against him, one for bribery and one for bribery conspiracy, while clearing him of the four other counts. That one bribery conviction concerned the $4,500 bribe he gave an Oklahoma State coach, Lamont Evans, in that Cosmopolitan Hotel suite in Las Vegas. Dawkins’s co-defendant, Merl Code, was convicted of one bribery conspiracy count while being acquitted of three other counts. Both men will be sentenced at a later date.

UPDATE ON OCTOBER 3, 2019:

Dawkins was sentenced today in New York City to a year and a day in jail. U.S. District Judge went out of his way to say in court that Dawkins perjured himself during the trial by giving false testimony.

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