Two former players arraigned

DETROIT -- Two former University of Toledo football players charged in a point-shaving scheme were arraigned in federal court Wednesday, including an ex-running back from Canada who is described as a key contact for Detroit-area gamblers.

Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Adam Cuomo of Hagersville, Ontario, and Quinton Broussard of Carrollton, Texas.

The FBI says Cuomo, 31, incriminated himself during an interview in December 2006. Authorities also have recordings of phone calls between him and Ghazi "Gary" Manni of Sterling Heights.

In December 2005, the talk turned to how a reluctant basketball player had agreed to shave points.

"Cuomo responded by saying that money will overcome all," FBI agent Stephen Ferrari said in a court document unsealed last month.

Cuomo is charged with conspiring with Manni, Mitchell "Ed" Karam and others to fix the results of Toledo football and basketball games, from late 2004 through 2006.

He met Manni through the owner of a phone shop in Toledo, Ohio, the FBI says.

"Cuomo stated that he was the University of Toledo player who started the point-shaving scheme with Gary ... He brought 'numerous' University of Toledo athletes from the football and basketball teams" to the Detroit area to meet the gambler, Ferrari said.

Defense lawyer Richard Helfrick said he was not involved in the case when the FBI knocked on Cuomo's door in 2005. He hasn't had an opportunity to look at evidence collected by the government.

Asked if his client wants to make a deal with prosecutors, Helfrick said: "We have not had those kinds of specific discussions."

Authorities say Karam and Manni bet $407,000 on Toledo basketball games in 2005 and 2006 and paid players to shave points to control the final score. Seven ex-players -- three in football and four in basketball -- have been charged.

Broussard, 25, scored nine touchdowns as a running back in 2004-05. He, too, is charged with conspiracy to influence sports through bribery. The indictment says he met Manni at least twice and talked with him on the phone.

His lawyer, Sanford Plotkin, said "It's very unfortunate he's caught up in this affair."

In a separate indictment, Manni and Karam are charged with conspiring with a jockey at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida to fix races.