| ||Friday, April 14|
Piggie indicted on 11 counts in Kansas City
|ESPN.com news services|
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An amateur basketball coach was charged with defrauding UCLA, Duke, Missouri and Oklahoma State by paying high school players to be on his summer league team, sometimes giving them cash stuffed in shoe boxes. Myron Piggie of Kansas City, Mo., was charged with paying them between April 4, 1996, and Oct. 7, 1999, and expecting to receive part of their professional salaries and endorsement income in return. He also is accused of conspiring with sports agents to determine the future professional value of the players. The 11-count indictment was returned Wednesday and unsealed Thursday. His lawyer, Kimberley Kellogg Gepford, said Piggie would plead innocent at a hearing Monday. "This is not about $50, a pair of shoes and a prom corsage," U.S. Attorney Stephen Hill said. "This was significant money." Piggie paid JaRon Rush of UCLA $17,000; Kareem Rush of Missouri $2,300; Corey Maggette of Duke $2,000; Andre Williams of Oklahoma State $250; and Korleone Young $14,000, according to the indictment. Federal law-enforcement sources tell ESPN that the indictment alleges that Piggie gave JaRon Rush $5,000 to lease a 1998 Blazer in January 1998 on condition that he not accept a scholarship to play at Kansas. Rush eventually accepted a scholarship to attend UCLA. Young, from Wichita, Kan., did not play college basketball, going straight to the NBA draft. JaRon Rush and Kareem Rush are brothers who played at Kansas City's Pembroke Hill High School. The schools, their conferences and the NCAA were defrauded because they were denied the services of the players while they were suspended and because the players illegally obtained scholarships worth $99,127.80, the indictment said. The players got the money in cash, sometimes in Nike shoe boxes, and were told to keep the payments a secret, the indictment said. "It was a part of the scheme that defendant developed cover stories for the players to explain the payments in the event the NCAA learned of their existence," the indictment said. The players, some of whom testified before the grand jury, will not be charged because they cooperated and suffered enough by being suspended by their schools, Hill said. The Rush brothers and Williams were suspended by their schools for varying periods. Those cases have since been resolved by the NCAA with the Rush brothers each missing nine games and Williams five. Maggette was never declared ineligible. The NCAA was furnished with a copy of the indictment, but did not participate in the investigation. The NCAA had not seen the indictment and declined comment, spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said Thursday. Piggie, 39, was being held without bond until a detention hearing Monday. He could face up to 49 years in prison without parole and up to $1.85 million in fines. The charges included mail fraud, wire fraud, failure to file a federal income tax return and interstate transport of fraudulently obtained funds. He also was charged with illegal possession of a firearm. "This is not an indictment about mail fraud or tax evasion," said Kansas City FBI agent Jeff Lanza, who is involved in the investigation. "It's an indictment about the corruption of amateur athletics." Piggie used the access he gained to the players to receive a $425,000 consulting contract and $159,866 in other compensation from Nike, the indictment said. It also said he was given $184,435 from Kansas City booster Tom Grant. Nike and Grant were not charged. The payments to the players were made throughout the school year because of Piggie's need to keep them under his control, Hill said. Piggie coached the Children's Mercy Hospital 76'ers, an amateur summer league basketball team in Kansas City, which participated in various summer league and Amateur Athletic Union competitions for boys 11-18. Piggie also coached the team after it became known as the Kansas City Rebels.
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