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Three assistants tied to FBI's bribery investigation appear in NYC court

Men's College Basketball, Auburn Tigers, Arizona Wildcats, USC Trojans

NEW YORK -- Five men arrested two weeks ago, including three assistant basketball coaches connected to the FBI investigation that centered on bribery within college basketball, were released on $100,000 bonds after appearing at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in lower Manhattan on Tuesday.

Arizona's Emanuel "Book" Richardson, USC's Tony Bland, Auburn's Chuck Person, along with Adidas' Merl Code and custom clothier and former NBA referee Rashan Michel, all appeared in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker.

Code was the first to sit in front of the judge at approximately 1 p.m. ET, and he was followed by Richardson and Bland, then Person and finally Michel. Each was in front of the judge for approximately 15 minutes while the judge read him his rights, the charges on the complaint, the terms of the bond and travel restrictions.

Richardson, who hails from New York, had his wife, Erin, and several other family members and friends with him in the courthouse. He grabbed the hand of one of his friends prior to the proceedings and the two men could be seen saying a prayer together. Bland, Michel and Person were in attendance with their legal representation.

Federal prosecutors in New York announced charges of fraud and corruption against 10 people on Sept. 26. Each of the coaches is charged with bribery conspiracy, solicitation of bribes, honest services fraud conspiracy, honest service fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and Travel Act conspiracy. The U.S. Department of Justice said each of the coaches faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.

The probe focused on coaches being paid tens of thousands of dollars to steer NBA-bound players toward sports agents, financial advisors and apparel companies.

"The important thing is not to rush to judgment," Richardson's lawyer, David Axelrod, said prior to the proceedings. "It's a tragedy for a truly decent human being."

Richardson's other attorney, Craig Mordock, said that Richardson was "completely shocked" when he was arrested at 5:50 a.m. on Sept. 26.

"That clearly is not a practical possibility," Mordock added of his client, Richardson, serving 80 years in prison.

Each was represented by legal counsel, who agreed to the terms. The preliminary hearing for each was set for Nov. 9, but the preliminary hearing could be avoided if there's an indictment prior to Nov. 9.

One of the lawyers told ESPN that an indictment is likely, and an arraignment would follow within days of the indictment.

"We haven't received any of the evidence yet," Jeffrey Lichtman, Bland's lawyer, said as he left the courthouse. "There's nothing to comment on, not much for us to say at this time. ... It's a dark day for anybody charged. Tony's a good man; anybody who has ever met him knows that."

Christian Dawkins, who previously worked for agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports, and financial advisor Munish Sood already have made their initial appearances, while Adidas executive Jim Gatto and former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans are expected to appear on Thursday. AAU director Jonathan Brad Augustine also was among the 10 people arrested.

The four coaches have all either been placed on administrative leave or been fired by their universities, and the scandal also has cost Louisville head coach Rick Pitino his job, due to the Cardinals' connection with Adidas' alleged payment of $100,000 to the family of current freshman Brian Bowen.

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