SAN DIEGO — Former University of San Diego basketball star Brandon Johnson was sentenced to six months in prison Friday for his role in a game-fixing scheme.
San Diego's all-time scoring and assists leader admitted unsuccessfully soliciting an unidentified player during the 2010-11 season, when he was no longer at the school. He insisted he never manipulated a game in which he played, though prosecutors alleged he sought to influence the outcome of games during his senior year.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia told Johnson, 26, that his record-setting career was tarnished, according to the U-T San Diego newspaper (http://bit.ly/13uKfoc).
"You disparaged the integrity of a university and disparaged the integrity of basketball," Battaglia said.
"You'll keep the records, but like Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens you'll have some explaining to do," the judge added.
Johnson, who pleaded guilty in November to a conspiracy charge, is the highest profile of the 10 defendants indicted in 2011 as part of a conspiracy that included a game-fixing scheme, an illegal sports gambling operation and marijuana distribution. Eight have pleaded guilty and five have been sentenced.
The government asserted that Johnson profited $5,000 to $10,000 for altering "approximately four games" during the 2009-10 season.
The U-T reported that the government's sentencing memorandum included excerpts of secretly taped phone conversations in which Johnson says at one point, "Wish I woulda did every game."
Johnson also discusses a February 2010 game against Loyola Marymount in which he did not shoot late in a game that the government claims was fixed and resulted in an estimated $70,000 worth of gambling profits for fellow conspirators. San Diego was favored by 3 1/2 points and lost 72-69.
"Coach was like, how you ain't get a shot up," Johnson is quoted in the transcription of a call. "I'm in the locker room, like, You can say what you want, but that's a G ($1,000) right there."
Federal prosecutors wanted a judge to sentence Johnson to a year in prison, according to the U-T. Johnson's attorney, Oliver Cleary, sought probation and no time in custody, saying his client should be sentenced only for trying to recruit the player after he left school.
"Because the player did not take the bait," Cleary said, "the offense remains a cautionary tale more than a tragic consequence. As such, it ranks in the relatively low category of offenses."
Johnson, who resides in Jersey Village, Texas, was ordered to report to prison on May 31. He has been free on bond.
Johnson has been playing for the Sugar Land Legends of the minor-league American Basketball League while coaching with a youth club. According to court filings by his attorney, Johnson "has lost contracts to play basketball in China, Romania, Poland, Finland, two in Germany and Venezuela" since his arrest.
Information from: U-T San Diego, http://www.utsandiego.com