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Travel receipts offer some insight into Book Richardson’s pre-arrest actions - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sites

April 7, 2018 10:21 pm
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Financial records from the University of Arizona suggest that former assistant basketball coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson did not use taxpayer money last summer, when federal agents say he traveled to the East Coast, received bribes from a sports agent and planned to pay a Wildcats recruit.

Richardson was arrested in September and charged with federal bribery and conspiracy crimes. If convicted, Richardson could face a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

In response to a public records request from the Star, the UA provided Richardson’s travel receipts from a six-month period beginning in March 2017. The receipts include trips to the Final Four in Phoenix and recruiting trips to New York, San Diego, Georgia, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The UA said it has no records from the timeframe presented by the FBI in its indictment. Federal prosecutors say Richardson met with financial adviser and co-defendant Munish Sood in a New York hotel room on June 20 and discussed steering a recruit to sign with sports agent Christian Dawkins, who is also a co-defendant in the case. Sood gave Richardson $5,000 at the end of the meeting in exchange for his promise to get UA players to sign with Dawkins when they turn pro, according to federal documents.

Richardson met with Sood in his New Jersey office one month later, where he received a $15,000 payment, according to the indictment. Richardson told Sood he needed the money to land the recruit, believed to be point guard Jahvon Quinerly, the indictment stated.

The New Jersey-born Quinerly verbally committed to the UA on Aug. 8, two-and-a-half weeks after Richardson reportedly received the second sum of money. Quinerly then decommitted in October, and has since signed with national champion Villanova.

Richardson’s other expenses paint a picture of a coach frequently on the road. Between March 30 and Sept. 20, 2017, Richardson billed nearly $15,000 to the UA, which included 35 nights in 14 hotels, 10 rental cars, meals and parking fees. Airfare was not included in the expense reports.

Receipts reveal a wide range of expenses, including a $629 night at a New York hotel, a nearly $200 Uber ride from Tucson to Phoenix and multiple $75-per-day parking fees. The UA Foundation paid for part of Richardson’s hotel stays when the room fees exceeded the “UA max,” according to the receipts. The maximum amount that the UA was willing to pay differed in each case, but the UA Foundation paid a total of $1,918 toward Richardson’s lodging.

The records also show Richardson traveled to New York City on May 24, a recruiting “dead period,” to visit a person identified only as Brandon. The last name was redacted from the form, and receipts do not indicate whether Brandon was a recruit or coach. The UA has one player named Brandon — Brandon Randolph, a guard from Yonkers, New York — but he signed with the UA in November 2016, six months before Richardson’s trip. It’s unclear whether, or why, Richardson would have visited a player who had already signed with the program.

Richardson returned to Tucson on May 26, the final day of the “dead period.”

Richardson’s Sept. 26 arrest was the first salvo in what has been a dramatic seven months for the UA program. Assistant coach Mark Phelps served a brief suspension for violating NCAA rules, and former associate head coach Joe Pasternack was linked to Dawkins in a lengthy Yahoo Sports article about corruption in recruiting.

ESPN reported in February that coach Sean Miller discussed paying Deandre Ayton $100,000 to play at Arizona, citing an FBI wiretap that intercepted phone calls between Miller and Dawkins. ESPN has since corrected the dates in its story twice, but continues to stand by Miller’s link to Dawkins. A story posted this week on ESPN.com said “multiple sources” confirmed that Miller and Dawkins discussed Ayton and the money.

The Arizona Board of Regents voted Friday to change the terms of Miller’s contract, adding a $1 million retention bonus penalty if he is found guilty of a Level 1 NCAA rules violation or is criminally charged in connection to the federal probe.

Miller has vehemently denied any involvement in the pay-for-play scandal.

Ayton has been interviewed by the UA, NCAA, FBI, Pac-12 and the independent counsel of Steptoe & Johnson, according to an outside counsel hired to investigate the UA basketball program. Attorney Paul Kelly said in February that Ayton “credibly and consistently” denied taking any money or extra benefit to attend the UA, and the same goes for his family.