The new HBO documentary “The Scheme” dives into an FBI sting operation that threatened to upend the world of college basketball and led to the arrests of 10 people in a bribery and corruption scheme.
Aspiring agent Christian Dawkins, the primary voice in the documentary, recruited young basketball players with payments in the hopes that they'd choose his fledgling management company to represent them once they turned pro. Along the way, college coaches were used to funnel money to players as well, such as University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel "Book" Richardson.
Unbeknownst to Dawkins, the investors funding his new agency were undercover FBI agents looking to create a bribery case against coaches and power brokers in the college game. While Dawkins' vision was to recruit players directly from the high school and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) ranks, the FBI agents posing as his partners wanted the money to go to the coaches with the understanding that the coaches would pay the recruits and then steer their players to Dawkins' company LOYD Management, once they went pro.
Although no head coaches were ultimately charged in the operation, a number of assistant coaches were implicated, including Richardson, who'd known Dawkins through the latter's work with young players being recruited by top college programs. Dawkins bragged in the documentary about calling assistant coaches like Richardson daily.
Richardson was working as an assistant coach for the University of Arizona under head coach Sean Miller at the time.
Months before his arrest, Dawkins set up a meeting between Richardson and Jeff D’Angelo, an undercover FBI agent whose true identity has never been revealed. From both the recorded phone calls and his own statements in the documentary, Dawkins appeared skeptical as to why D'Angelo wanted to pay coaches directly rather than players, as he'd originally intended, but D'Angelo was insistent and held the purse strings. In a recorded phone call, Dawkins advised Richardson to just get whatever money he could from D'Angelo and use it however he liked.
"You use that money that you're getting from them to help you recruit, do whatever, or f--king just go on a vacation with it, who cares?” Dawkins said.
In a secretly videotaped meeting, D’Angelo and another business associate of Dawkins gave Richardson $5,000, which ultimately led to Richardson's arrest; Dawkins, several other assistant coaches and a handful of other associates ended up arrested as well.
What happened to Richardson?
Richardson was suspended from his coaching position following his arrest, Tucson.com reported last year. The university then fired him in January of 2018.
Richardson took a plea deal in January 2019, according to Tucson.com. Richardson admitted to taking $20,000 in bribes from sports agents so that he could later steer players to those agents. He was sentenced to three months behind bars. Other assistant coaches roped into the sting, like Auburn's Chuck Person — who took $91,500 in bribes, according to prosecutors — and USC's Tony Bland, received lesser sentences.
When asking for the kind of leniency that Person and Bland received, Richardson’s attorney Craig Mordock told a judge at the time that the case had already destroyed his client's life.
“Mr. Richardson’s entire life, in part by his own misguided volition, is largely ruined and will never be the same,” Mordock stated before his sentencing. “As a result of this case, he will never work again in college basketball and will be saddled with a felony conviction thereby vastly limiting his professional opportunities in any capacity. Certainly this punishment alone would arguably be sufficient.”
After serving nearly three months at a federal prison in Otisville, New York, he was released two days early in October 2019, according to Tucson.com. He was still ordered to be under supervised release for the next two years, KGUN9 in Tucson reported last year.
Richardson's Twitter, which focuses mostly on basketball, indicates that he now lives in New York City. He currently serves as the director of operations for the New York Gauchos Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). He was rehired by the organization — he was a coach for the Gauchos back in 2007 — less than a month after his release from prison, according to Tucson.com. The organization announced in November over Twitter that they were "proud" to have him back.
"This man means so much to so many people," they tweeted. "Welcome back family."
Richardson declined to speak with Oxygen.com.
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