The Daily Northwestern EVANSTON, Ill. (U-WIRE) -- Wearing a double-breasted navy blazer, olive slacks and a terse expression, former Northwestern men's basketball player Kenneth Lee pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago to charges related to point shaving during the 1994-95 season. Also on Monday, Judge Charles Norgle Sr. scheduled another status hearing in the cases of former NU basketball player Dewey Williams and alleged gambler Brian Irving for May 4. In court, Irving's attorney, Gene Steingold, raised the possibility that his client would settle the case out of court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins confirmed that fact but declined further comment. Lee, 24, of Louisville, Ky., entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit sports bribery. After Monday's arraignment, Lee was released on a $4,500 personal recognizance bond. Lee is expected to testify against Williams and Irving in exchange for the government's recommendation for a reduced sentence. In a separate case, Lee may also testify against former NU football player Brian Ballarini. According to the grand jury's original indictment, Ballarini allegedly threatened Lee with physical harm if Lee did not pay off gambling debts owed to Ballarini. As part of his plea agreement, Lee also agreed to cooperate with the FBI and NCAA for up to five years on programs designed to educate students and athletes about the dangers of gambling. Without a recommendation for downward departure by prosecutors, Lee could face from 10 to 16 months in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Lee agreed to postpone his sentencing until after all other trials related to the case are concluded. Lee and his attorney, Paul Wagner, left the Dirksen Federal Building through as secured exit and could not be reached for comment. Prosecutors, though, said the guilty plea was significant. "Now we have the first student-athlete involved in this conspiracy pleading guilty," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Vogel said. "From that standpoint, we now have people on both sides of the scheme." Lee is the second man to plead guilty to charges of plotting to fix three NU basketball games in February and March 1995. On April 9, Kevin Pendergast, the scheme's alleged ringleader, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sports bribery. In their respective plea agreements, Pendergast and Lee each admitted to having participated in an arrangement whereby Lee would ensure that NU lost selected games by more than the posted point spreads in exchange for cash payments from Pendergast. Lee averaged just 6.3 points in the three fixed games, well below his 13.1 scoring average in Big 10 games that season. And despite being NU's best three-point shooter that year, Lee converted only 1-of-8 shots from beyond the arc in the three games in question. Moreover, Lee admitted to having recruited Williams and another teammate -- unindicted co-conspirator Matthew Purdy -- to help with the point shaving scheme in exchange for cash payoffs. On March 1, 1995, with Pendergast and other gamblers having bet up to $20,000 on the game, the Cats lost to Michigan by less than the posted point spread and, from there, the scheme unravelled. Prosecutors said that on or around the date of the Michigan game was the last time Lee and Pendergast were in contact. Lee began cooperating with the government's investigation in June 1997. "From the government's standpoint, gambling has become a serious problem on college campuses," Vogel said. "It's particularly dangerous because students have access to other student-athletes. How many people can approach Michael Jordan -- not many."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.