Lawyers for James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins asked a District Court judge to drop charges against them.

By Daniel Rapaport
December 23, 2017

Lawyers for three men charged in connection with the NCAA recruiting scandal have asked a U.S. District Court judge to drop the charges against them, reports ESPN's Mark Schlabach

The three men are James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins. Gatto was Adidas' global sports marketing director for basketball, Code was an official associated with Adidas, and Dawkins was an agent for ASM Sports. All three men were arrested on Sept. 26 after an FBI investigation revealed bribery, wire fraud and and mass corruption across college basketball recruiting. 

Specifically, Gatto, Code and Dawkins and accused of participating in a scheme in which they bribed high school recruits to commit to Adidas schools and then sign with the sportswear company upon turning professional. 

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The three accused men's lawyers sent a letter to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, and in the letter they argue that the men's actions did not violate federal law, even if they did violate NCAA regulations. The crux of this claim is the notion that the men did not committ wire fraud because they did not defraud victims, but actually benefited them. 

"The payments purportedly made by Defendants were not themselves unlawful," the letter says, per Schlabach. "It is not against the law to offer a financial incentive to a family to persuade them to send their son or daughter to a particular college. Such payments might, however, violate the rules of the NCAA. After expending enormous resources, the Government has strained to find any legal theory -- ultimately resorting to one that was directly rejected by a Federal Court of Appeals -- in order to transform NCAA rule violations into a conspiracy to commit federal wire fraud."

The scandal has implicated some of the country's biggest program's—including Arizona, USC and Louisville—and led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino

 

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