Chuck Person indicted by federal grand jury, fired by Auburn
Chuck Person has been indicted by a federal grand jury and fired by Auburn.
After the former Auburn assistant coach and player along with co-defendant Rashan Michel were indicted on six charges by a federal grand jury in New York on Tuesday, Auburn officials confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that Person’s employment had been officially terminated.
"He is no longer an employee. As such this is in the hands of the criminal justice system," Auburn University's statement Tuesday night to the Montgomery Advertiser read.
The Montgomery Advertiser acquired the 27-page indictment Tuesday evening. According to the indictment, Person and Michel are required to release "any and all property, real and personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of said offenses, including but not limited to a sum of money in United States currency representing the amount of proceeds traceable to the commission of said offenses."
The school’s all-time leading scorer was placed on suspension without pay following his Sept. 26 arrest on charges of bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes and gratuities, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and travel act conspiracy.
"Chuck Person in describing his influence over one of his players put it this way, 'He listens to one person, that is me,'" said Joon H. Kim, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Chuck Person also said that his players trusted and looked up to him because he coached Kobe Bryant and worked for Phil Jackson."
Auburn President Steven Leath confirmed Sept. 26 that he met with FBI agents on the morning that Person and several others were arrested in connection to the alleged corruption scheme involving college basketball. However, Leath told ESPN and made a public statement that day that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York assured him the university and the school’s athletic department were not the target of their investigation.
According to federal documents detailing the FBI investigation into corruption involving pay-for-play schemes of several coaches, Person allegedly received $91,500 in bribery payments to steer two unnamed Auburn players to a certain agents and financial advisers. Person and Michel, a former NBA and NCAA official and current custom clothing distributor, agreed to accept approximately $50,000 in bribe payments from an undercover federal agent.
Person was released on $100,000 bond last month after making an appearance in U.S. District Court in New York. If found guilty of the charges, Person faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in federal prison.
Auburn has promoted former director of basketball operations Chad Prewett, who has been on Bruce Pearl’s staff since June 2014, to an on-the-floor assistant coach to replace Person.
Auburn has already announced projected starters Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy will not begin the 2017-18 season on the roster due to concerns regarding their eligibility in a fallout from the allegations against Person.
The indefinite suspension of Wiley and Purifoy came hours before Auburn's only exhibition game last week, a 100-95 loss to Division II Barry University.
“We're still not in a position where we can determine their eligibility yet so therefore, out of caution, they weren't eligible to play,” Pearl said following the exhibition loss on Thursday. “It's indefinite. It could be short or it could be longer. We don't know.”
Part of the $91.500 received by Person allegedly includes Person saying on camera to uncover agents bribes that he paid bribes of $11,000 and $7,500 to family members of two Tigers in order to steer them toward financial advisers. Person also allowed for meetings to take place between the mothers of the players and the people Person was working with in the alleged scheme.
Person was about to begin fourth season at Auburn and has been a mainstay in the major rebuilding project under Pearl. The Brantley native was promoted to associate head coach in May 2015 after spending his first season as an assistant coach.
Person, who played alongside fellow Auburn and NBA greats Charles Barkley and Chris Morris, is the all-time scoring leader in Auburn history with 2,311 points in 126 games — without the 3-point shot. His 18.3-point career average is sixth in school history. He is also the school record holder for field goals made (1,017), field goals attempted (1,899) and is third in total rebounds (940).
While in the NBA, Person played for and was on the coaching staffs of some of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball including Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Jack Ramsay and Rick Carlisle.