Defendant in USD basketball bribery case pleads guilty to charge - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Defendant in USD basketball bribery case pleads guilty to charges

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - One of 10 defendants charged in a sports-bribery ring involving the University of San Diego men's basketball team pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to conspiracy to conduct sports bribery, running an illegal gambling business and distribution of marijuana.

Richard Thweni, also known as "Slick Rick," is the third person to plead guilty in the case.

Ten defendants, including former USD star guard Brandon Johnson, were indicted more than a year ago.

Thweni admitted that he agreed with at least one other person to operate an illegal sports gambling business, or sports "book," between January 2009 and April 2011.

Federal prosecutors said organizers of the scheme conspired to bribe USD players to alter the outcome of games so the defendants could profit by betting on games in Las Vegas.

According to the indictment, Johnson -- while he was the staring point guard for USD -- took a bribe to influence the result of a game in February 2010. After he was gone from USD in January 2011, Johnson solicited an individual to affect the outcome of USD basketball games, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors alleged former USD player Brandon Dowdy and former USD assistant coach Thaddeus Brown were also recruited to throw games as part of the scheme.

The investigation, dubbed "Operation Hook Shot," started in 2008 when co-defendant Steve Goria was arrested for marijuana distribution and expanded into a sports-bribery case, authorities said.

Two other co-defendants, David Gates and Jake Salter, have also pleaded guilty in the case.

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