INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals  reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the second half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)


By Richard Ray:


I know that it easy to pontificate on subjects behind a keypad with little threat of repercussions, but from all initial accounts, the US Attorney’s indictments on four college basketball assistant coaches has little substance behind the threats that already have the college sports world shook including the anticipated firing of Legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino.


I listened to the initial press accounts of the indictments handed down by the US Attorney and like many of you it appeared as if Winter had come to college basketball. Four assistant coaches have been arrested. There have been threats and implications that many more are sure to follow. This is what the Feds do… they come in heavy and loud. One of the reasons that they have a conviction rate of nearly 98% is that they make such a public demonstration with their arrests and talk of 20-80 year sentences leave most people just cowering in fear and eager to take pleas… if they do not actually cooperate and snitch against others first. The Feds count on your fear… The Feds count on your insufficient resources to fight them… The Feds count on you and your family reading the press headlines like everyone else to feel an inevitability of defeat.

I am in no way implying that a Fed indictment isn’t a serious matter. I am saying that in this particular case involving the coaching indictments, each of the individual cases initially brought forth are not as serious as portrayed and if the four defendants  kept their mouth shut and fought their cases on their own, none is realistically looking at more than 6 months to 3 years maximum as a sentence if they actually lost the case. Probation for first time offenders under sentencing guidelines would even possibly exist.

These are non-violent white collar crimes of bribery involving $20,000- $100,000.00. This is really not a lot of money in a relative sense for a federal case. All of the talk of 20 to 80 year sentences are just part of the scare tactics that the Feds use to get people to cooperate and plea. On their face if each of these initial defendants shut their mouths and adjudicated their cases on their own, the penalty is no where likely what has been publicized. Is cooperating worth it when you are still going to get the same amount of time whether you plead out or fought your case?

I know it is easy for me to say, because I am not under indictment, but this might be one of the few occasions where I would advise my clients to fully fight a federal indictment. The cases are weak on their own… The penalties are weak on their own. I do not agree with cooperation as a matter of principal, but if you are going to lose your job anyway, why destroy your reputation as well with very little upside to the deed.

That said, I know that most of these coaches involved are going to tell… and their telling will ultimately lead to more indictments and bigger proverbial fish. Like most criminal cases… if people just shut up the case would probably die on its own, but the anticipated levels of cooperation that the Feds are going to receive from people unreasonably fearful will make this case eventually as big as the Feds falsely proclaimed initially.




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