Lawyers for former Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person have filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against him on six federal charges related to the FBI’s college basketball investigation, according to a report by AL.com.
The motion says in part, “The government cannot turn the NCAA rulebook into an appendix of Title 18 of the United States Code.”
In the motion, Theresa Trzaskoma argues the indictment against Person does not allege a federal funds bribery scheme or honest services fraud, that those charges are “unconstitutional as applied,” there is no allegation of a scheme to defraud Auburn and the government’s “theory” as to the wire fraud charge violates due process.
"In this case, the government has singled out certain alleged NCAA rules violations as 'corrupt' and decided to prosecute them as federal crimes," Trzaskoma writes. “The Indictment must be dismissed because the allegations do not support a conviction under any viable theory of criminal liability. To the contrary, each of the government's charges is predicated on a novel theory that is inconsistent with the relevant statutory language and that would impermissibly extend the boundaries of federal criminal law well beyond constitutional limits. ... It is hard to fathom what federal interest is at stake in enforcing the NCAA's amateurism rules."
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Trzaskoma goes on to argue, “the bribery and honest services fraud charges are unsustainable” and “the government’s wire fraud theory is equally flawed.”
Person was among 11 men arrested by the FBI on Sept. 26. Person was fired by Auburn in October, and in November he pleaded not guilty to six charges of bribery, fraud and corruption.
Person is accused of receiving $91,500 in bribes from a federal cooperating witness, former Pittsburgh-based financial advisor Marty Blazer. Person is also accused of using his influence with Auburn basketball players to lead them to use Blazer’s services.
According to the federal complaint, Person told Blazer he gave $18,500 to the mothers of two Auburn players, later identified as Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy.
Trzaskoma argues Person “was not acting as Auburn’s agent in recommending Mr. Blazer’s services to the players, nor was Mr. Person’s conduct connected to any business or transaction of Auburn.” The motion emphasizes a line must be drawn between Person in his capacity as an Auburn coach and in his capacity as a private citizen.
A jury trial has been set for February 4, 2019.