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Indicted

Summer league coach faces fraud charges

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Posted: Thursday April 13, 2000 08:36 PM

  JaRon Rush UCLA's JaRon Rush was allegedly paid $17,000 between August 1996 and March 1998. Jeff Gross/Allsport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- An amateur basketball coach was indicted for allegedly defrauding UCLA, Duke, Missouri and Oklahoma State by giving cash payments sometimes stuffed in Nike Corp. shoe boxes to high school basketball players on his summer league team.

Myron C. Piggie, 39, of Kansas City, Mo., was named in an 11-count indictment related to the basketball case and in a separate one-count indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The indictment, returned Wednesday and unsealed Thursday, charged that Piggie paid the players between April 4, 1996, and Oct. 7, 1999, to play for the team he coached in the expectation that he would receive a portion of their professional salaries and endorsement income.

It also alleged that he conspired with a sports agents to determine the future professional value of the players.

"This is not about $50, a pair of shoes and a prom corsage," U.S. Attorney Stephen Hill said Thursday. "This was significant money."

The indictment alleged that Piggie paid JaRon Rush of UCLA $17,000 between August 1996 and March 1998, Kareem Rush of Missouri $2,300 between April 1997 and July 1998, Corey Maggette of Duke $2,000 between April 1997 and July 1998, Andre Williams of Oklahoma State $250 between April 1998 and June 1998, and Korleone Young $14,000 between April 1996 and June 1998.

Young, from Wichita, Kan., did not play college basketball, opting for the NBA draft. JaRon Rush and Kareem Rush are brothers who played at Kansas City's Pembroke Hill High School.

"It was further a part of the scheme that payments to the basketball players were made in cash and at various times packaged in Nike shoe boxes," the indictment said. "Moreover, these payments were made secretly to the players who were told by defendant to keep the payments confidential. Additionally, it was a part of the scheme that defendant developed cover stories for the players to explain the payments in the event the NCAA learned of their existence."

The players were paid for playing in various tournaments and for special occasions such as Christmas and Halloween.

The indictment alleged that the schools, their conferences and the NCAA were defrauded because they were denied the services of the players while they were suspended and because the players illegally obtained scholarships worth $99,127.80.

The players, some of whom testified before the grand jury, will not be charged because they cooperated with the investigation and because they suffered enough by being suspended by their schools, Hill said.

The NCAA was furnished with a copy of the indictment, but did not participate in the investigation, Hill said.

The NCAA had not seen the indictment and declined comment, spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said Thursday.

Piggie, who was being held without bond until a detention hearing Monday, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, three counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, four counts of failure to file a federal income tax return and two counts of interstate transport of fraudulently obtained funds.

The indictment alleged that Piggie used the access that he gained to the players by paying them to receive a $425,000 consulting contract and $159,866 in other compensation from Nike Corp. The indictment also said he was given $184,435 from Kansas City booster Tom Grant.

Nike and Grant were not charged in the indictment.

The payments to the players were made throughout the school year because of Piggie's need to keep them under his control, Hill said.

As a result of the payments, both of the Rush brothers, Maggette and Williams were suspended by their schools for varying periods. Those cases have since been resolved by the NCAA.

Piggie coached the Children's Mercy Hospital 76'ers, an amateur summer league basketball team in Kansas City, which participated in various summer league and Amateur Athletic Union competitions for boys 11-18 years old. Piggie also coached the team after it became known as the Kansas City Rebels.

The gun charge against Piggie came after a Kansas City police officer found a semiautomatic pistol in his car during a traffic stop in December 1998. Piggie had been convicted on a cocaine charge in January 1998.

Piggie could face a maximum penalty of 49 years in prison without parole and up to $1.85 million in fines. In the firearm case, Piggie faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

 
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