Booster charged with paying Webber, 3 others at MichiganPosted: Thursday March 21, 2002 1:13 PM
Updated: Friday March 22, 2002 7:01 AM
DETROIT (AP) -- A former Michigan basketball booster was indicted on charges of giving ex-Wolverines star Chris Webber and other players more than $600,000 while they were in high school and college.
Ed Martin, a retired Ford Motor Co. electrician, made loans to the players to help conceal profits from gambling operations at Detroit-area auto plants, according to the federal indictment released Thursday.
U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins said the payments were made from 1988-99 "to the basketball players and their families."
None of the players or their family members were involved in the criminal investigation, Collins said. Prosecutors also said there was no evidence of point-shaving or other gambling on college sports.
FBI Special Agent John Bell said the investigation continued into whether the players reported the income.
Martin and his wife were arrested Thursday on charges of running an illegal gambling business, conspiracy and money laundering. They pleaded innocent and were released on $10,000 bond.
The charges, handed up by a grand jury on Wednesday, resulted from an investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.
According to the indictment, Webber received about $280,000 from 1988-93, a period extending from his freshman year at Detroit Country Day high school through his sophomore season at Michigan. The leader of Michigan's 'Fab Five' teams, he now stars with the Sacramento Kings.
Webber's agent, Fallasha Erwin, said he knew nothing about payments to his client as detailed in the indictment.
"He didn't live the kind of lifestyle that would coincide with somebody with that kind of money," Erwin said. "It seems a little far-fetched. I don't know where they came up with that figure, but that's what our judicial system is for."
Webber's mother, Doris Webber, declined comment. Chris Webber was in Sacramento preparing for a game Thursday night and unavailable for comment.
According to the indictment, Robert Traylor received $160,000 beginning while he was in high school in 1994 and continuing into the fall of 1998 at Michigan. Traylor now plays with the Charlotte Hornets.
Maurice Taylor received $105,000, but didn't get any money from Martin until 1996, his sophomore year at Michigan, the indictment said. Taylor now plays for the Houston Rockets.
The indictment also said Louis Bullock, who played at Michigan from 1995-99, received $71,000.
Messages left Thursday with the agents of Traylor and Taylor were not immediately returned.
Marvin Krislov, the university's vice president and general counsel, said in a statement that the school received a copy of the indictment Thursday and continues to cooperate with federal investigators, the NCAA and the Big Ten.
Michigan has banned Martin from its programs since March 1997.
The NCAA does not comment on specific allegations against schools, NCAA spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said.
Martin has refused to cooperate, and the players named in the indictment either told university investigators they did not take loans from Martin, or they refused to talk.
Each of the players named in the indictment unsealed Thursday has testified about his activities with Martin before a federal grand jury. Former Michigan coach Steve Fisher, now San Diego State's head coach, also testified, along with two former assistants.