Attorneys want federal charges in NCAA hoops scandal dropped

Attorneys representing the five men accused of bribery, fraud and conspiracy charges in a federal criminal trial involving alleged college basketball corruption have asked a U.S. District Court judge in New York to dismiss the charges.

The five men, including three former assistant coaches, are scheduled for trial on April 22.

In a motion filed Monday night, the attorneys argued that while their clients might have violated NCAA rules by accepting money from a former runner, they didn't commit federal crimes.

"In this case, the Government has singled out certain alleged NCAA rules violations as 'corrupt' and decided to prosecute them as federal crimes," the attorneys wrote. "[The] Indictment should be dismissed because the allegations fail to support a conviction under any viable theory of criminal liability.

"To the contrary, each of the Government's charges is predicated on a novel theory that is inconsistent with the relevant statutory language and would impermissibly extend the boundaries of federal criminal law well beyond constitutional limits."

Sources told ESPN that federal prosecutors have had preliminary discussions with defense attorneys about reaching plea agreements to avoid another lengthy trial.

"Since last year, we have been scratching our heads as to what the interest of the federal government is in selectively enforcing NCAA rules," said Craig Mordock, an attorney for former Arizona assistant Emanuel "Book" Richardson. "Legally, there is very little difference than if the government tried to attach criminal consequences to the rules of a 12-and-under soccer league."

The former coaches -- Richardson, Oklahoma State's Lamont Evans and USC's Tony Bland -- are accused of accepting bribes to steer players at their respective schools to sign with certain financial managers and agents once they turned pro. Richardson is accused of accepting $20,000 in bribes; Evans $22,000 while at South Carolina and Oklahoma State; and Bland about $13,000.

The other two men charged in the case, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Christian Dawkins, a former runner for NBA agent Andy Miller, were convicted in late October in a separate federal criminal case involving pay-for-play schemes to influence high-profile recruits to attend Adidas-sponsored schools, including Kansas, Louisville and NC State.

Code, Dawkins and Adidas executive James Gatto were found guilty on Oct. 25 of felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a three-week criminal trial in federal court in New York. They are scheduled for sentencing on March 5.

Their sentences will be determined by federal sentencing guidelines; attorneys in the case indicated the defendants might face two to four years in federal prison.

The third case, involving former Auburn assistant Chuck Person and former NBA referee Rashan Michel, is scheduled for trial in New York in February.