Man pleads guilty for trying to bribe player to fix a Division I game in 2018

A New York man acknowledged in federal court Thursday that he attempted to bribe a college basketball player to fix a Division I game in December 2018, his attorney said.

Benjamin Bifalco, 25, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded guilty to attempted sports bribery Thursday morning in the Eastern District of New York.

Sentencing is scheduled for June, according to Bifalco's attorney Vincent J. Martinelli. Under the statute, Bifalco faces up to five years of prison, however, prosecutors recommended to the judge up to six months of incarceration.

Martinelli told ESPN that Bifalco admitted to the court that he offered money to a player in return for making sure his team lost by more than the point spread. According to Martinelli, the player did not accept the offer and the attempt to compromise the game never came to fruition.

The player and school targeted have not been revealed.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York confirmed Bifalco's guilty plea to ESPN but did not release a statement after Thursday's plea.

Bifalco was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing the scheme with Joseph Amato Jr., one of 20 defendants who were arrested in October and charged with crimes in a wide-ranging investigation targeting the Colombo crime family.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed in late September, Bifalco encouraged Amato Jr. to place thousands of dollars in bets on the targeted game. Amato sent two texts to defendant Thomas Scorcia, warning that he didn't believe the fix had been solidified. "I'm not touching it personally," Amato told Scorcia, according to court filings.

The indictment noted that the favored team did not cover the spread "and the bets would not have been winning ones."

College basketball has been targeted in multiple point-shaving and game-fixing scandals for decades. Most recently, former Auburn point guard Varez Ward was arrested in June 2013 on allegations that he attempted to fix a game between the Tigers and Arkansas.