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Witness: I never saw ex-UA assistant Book Richardson take bribes from men on trial
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Arizona basketball

Witness: I never saw ex-UA assistant Book Richardson take bribes from men on trial

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Code Dawkins

Aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins, left, and former Adidas rep Merl Code.

NEW YORK — Under cross examination on Tuesday, a witness in the ongoing federal bribery case testified that he never saw former Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson receive money from either of the men currently on trial.

Munish Sood said multiple times that he did not see would-be agent Christian Dawkins or Adidas rep Merl Code pay Richardson.

The former UA assistant was shown on video Monday taking cash-filled envelopes on two separate occasions. Richardson received $5,000 on June 20, 2017, in a New York City hotel room and $15,000 the following month at Sood’s New Jersey office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney emphasized on Friday that Dawkins was not in the room either time. Sood and an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor were both present when Richardson took the cash; both were Dawkins’ business partners.

“You never once saw Christian Dawkins pay any of those coaches?” Haney asked.

“No,” Sood said.

“You never saw Christian Dawkins give Book a dime?” Haney asked.

“No,” Sood said.

Sood also testified that Code, the Adidas rep, never sent him a coach to pay.

Tuesday’s testimony came one day after UA coach Sean Miller and a handful of former and would-be Wildcats were mentioned on secretly recorded video and in witness testimony. The UA’s outside counsel, Paul V. Kelly, watched Tuesday from the gallery. Kelly told the Star in an email that attorneys representing the university have been in court every day, “and we are monitoring the proceedings very closely.”

Dawkins, Sood and the undercover FBI agent owned a company they called LOYD Inc. — short for “Live Out Your Dreams.” Dawkins owned 50 percent of the business, with Sood and the undercover FBI agent combining to own the other half. The undercover agent bought in to the company for $185,000, and Sood paid $40,000. The money was used to provide payments to players and coaches, and to cover general business expenses, Sood testified. Sood pleaded guilty to three felony bribery and fraud charges in August, part of a plea agreement. Sood said on the witness stand Tuesday that he hoped for a more lenient sentence based on his cooperation in the case.

Witness testimony and secret recordings detail a network of bribes designed to build LOYD Inc. into a one-stop shop for professional representation. LOYD Inc. paid the college coaches, who then promised to direct their best players to sign with LOYD Inc. for representation as pros. Secretly recorded video showed several college assistant coaches, including Richardson, saying that they were going to use their bribe money to pay high school recruits and their families to commit to their schools.

Richardson, in video played for jurors on Monday, explained his part of the scheme to Sood and the undercover agent.

“My role is to make sure that (players) look at you guys as family, as they look at me, because that’s how it works,” he said. “My goal is to make sure that you — like Deandre Ayton — should be the No. 1 overall pick.”

The LOYD Inc. partners discussed a plan where college players would be given three different agents to choose from, with LOYD getting a cut of the money either way. Richardson told Sood and the undercover agent that he was against that idea.

“It’s not about, hey, we’re going to be one of three. Excuse my expression , ‘(Expletive) that.’ Deandre, this is what we’re doing,” he said.

Asked on the stand what he thought that meant, Sood testified: “That it would be us.”

Richardson pleaded guilty to one federal bribery charge last month as part of a plea agreement. He will be sentenced May 30.

Testimony will continue Wednesday.

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