Former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson will be sentenced May 30. He pled guilty in January to federal funds bribery.

Describing Book Richardson as a now-humiliated product of a college basketball environment in which cheating is “commonplace,” the attorney for the former Arizona assistant coach asked a federal judge for leniency in Richardson’s May 30 sentencing.

Craig Mordock, Richardson’s New Orleans-based attorney, filed a motion Monday evening asking U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos to assign Richardson probation instead of the three-month jail sentence that was recommended by a probation officer last month.

Richardson accepted a plea agreement in January in which he pleaded guilty to a federal funds bribery charge, admitting he took $20,000 in exchange for a promise to direct UA players to aspiring agent Christian Dawkins for representation. Mordock’s motion said Richardson did not pay two players he had discussed steering to Dawkins.

Mordock told the Star that he was hoping Richardson would receive probation, but otherwise declined to comment.

His motion, however, detailed Richardson’s hardscrabble early life, his professional career and how Richardson has been derailed since his September 2017 arrest.

“Mr. Richardson’s entire life, in part by his own misguided volition, is largely ruined and will never be the same,” Mordock wrote. “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.”

The motion said Richardson and his wife have not been able to meet their monthly financial obligations, and that his wife has since moved to New York to take a receptionist job in order to provide the family with income and health insurance.

Fired from his $250,000-per-year Arizona coaching job in January 2018, Richardson has since accepted a low-paying job training basketball players in Tucson while guiding his son through his senior year of high school.

“The national publicity derived from this case has resulted in Mr. Richardson’s reputation being destroyed and has left him to draw on savings in order to meet monthly financial obligations,” Mordock said in the motion.

Mordock also argued in the motion that Richardson poses no threat to the public, did not have a prior criminal record and didn’t deserve jail time when others have behaved similarly, noting that two other college basketball assistant coaches were not charged despite having been shown on FBI videotape taking money from agents.

One videotape during the just-concluded federal trial showed former USC assistant coach Tony Bland, former Creighton assistant Preston Murphy and former TCU assistant Corey Barker all accepting cash, though only Bland was charged among them. Bland has also filed a motion seeking only probation.

The motion said Richardson did not intend to harm the Wildcats’ program but exposed the school to potential NCAA sanctions, noting that the NCAA has still not imposed any monetary fines or other penalties on the UA. The school confirmed earlier this month that an NCAA investigation is underway.

Mordock said in his motion that Richardson’s admitted actions are “far outside the norm of bribery cases that typify the offense,” though he has expressed remorse.

“Mr. Richardson knows he has let people down because of mistakes,” the motion said. “Mr. Richardson was a humble and good man before his arrest on September 27, 2017, and he remains a humble and good man today.”

In addition to the 15-page motion, Mordock attached letters vouching for Richardson’s character by Tucson attorney John Leader, New Orleans Pelicans scout Alex Kline, former Tulane basketball staffer Tony Chiles and Pepperdine assistant coach Reggie Morris.

Reporter

Bruce is a veteran Star sports reporter who has also worked at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He graduated from Northwestern University and has an MBA from Thunderbird.