Pitino attorney refutes claims indictment directly implicates his client
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) A New York federal grand jury on Tuesday returned indictments against 8 men in the recruiting and bribery scandal involving several college basketball programs including the University of Louisville.
One of the three indictments includes charges against Adidas executive James Gatto and sports manager Christian Dawkins.
In the indictment, one paragraph references Coach-2, who WHAS 11 News has been told is former Louisville head basketball coach, Rick Pitino.
While additional information is said about Coach-2 in the original complaint made public September 26, there is a similar paragraph in the indictment. Both documents focus on claims made by Dawkins during a conversation in a Las Vegas Hotel Room in July, which federal investigators said happened after a meeting with an assistant coach from Louisville.
“Dawkins then said that he had spoken with and informed Coach-2 that “I need you to call Jim Gatto [the defendant,} who’s the head of everything at Company-1’s basketball program," the complaint said.
“Specifically Dawkins explained that the while Coach-2 and the University of Louisville were recruiting the student-athlete, Dawkins asked Coach-2 to call James Gatto a/k/a Jim the defendant to request that Company-1 provide the money requested by the family of the student-athlete, which Coach-2 agreed to do,” the indictment reads.
The reference to an agreement is the difference.
Reached by phone Wednesday evening, Pitino's attorney Steve Pence downplayed any significance of the difference.
"These are statements by Dawkins, but it doesn't change anything. Coach Pitino did not know what was going on, and there's no way he could have known. This is a conspiracy to keep it from him," Pitino's attorney Steve Pence said Wednesday evening.
Pence strongly refuted reports suggesting Pitino had knowledge and a direct hand in the scheme to funnel money from Adidas to the families of recruits.
"The idea that Pitino knows everything is a flat lie, and nothing in this indictment that came out today is any different than the complaint that was filed a few weeks ago," Pence said, "Dawkins, himself, is clearly trying to impress someone who is an undercover agent for the FBI at the time, trying to get more money."
In a meeting with the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and in an effort to convince the board to not terminate Pitino's contract, Pence told the group Pitino has had conversations with Gatto and provided and that none of them involved anything illegal.
Another difference are the specifics of who was in that Las Vegas hotel room.
According to the original complaint, Dawkins, Jonathan Brad Augustine as well as an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness were present.
The indictment said Dawkins and an unindicted co-conspirator, as well as "others" were in the room.
That unindicted co-conspirator appears to be Augustine because the complaint says he was handed at envelope containing $12,700 which was to go to the family of a student-athlete. The indictment says that envelope was handed to the person called CC-2.
Of the 10 people originally arrested in the criminal complaint, Augustine is one of two that were not indicted yesterday and federal court documents say his attorneys are in “discussions regarding a possible disposition of these cases" which WHAS 11 News has been told could mean he is in talks with prosecutors trying to arrange a plea agreement.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York would not confirm whether plea agreement talks are underway.
Pitino has not been charged with a crime.
See the indictment documents below:
Assistant News Director Caroline Dickie contributed to this report. i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and email@example.com. Heather Fountaine can be reached at 502-582-7270 and firstname.lastname@example.org