Christian Dawkins was convicted in 2019 on conspiracy and bribery charges when plotting to bribe top college coaches to steer their NBA-bound athletes toward his sports management company and favored financial advisors. His conviction was upheld in June 2021 by an appellate court. This week, Dawkins is set to begin his 18-month sentence in an Alabama federal prison but has filed a hail-mary motion in his final hour.
Federal prosecutors in Las Vegas announced a criminal conviction of one of the undercover agents involved in the bribery case, leading to Dawkins filing a motion for a new trial. FBI special agent Scott Carpenter pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conversion of government money. When the case operations moved to Las Vegas during the investigation in 2017, Carpenter took $13,500 that was intended to fund the operation and gambled it at a casino.
Carpenter was not alone in his misconduct, either. The new filing alleges 4/5 of the agents assigned to the case “committed crimes, or acted, by the Government’s loose definition, ‘improperly.'” It should also be noted that Carpenter is only being charged with a misdemeanor, while other defendants are being stuck with felonies despite being involved with lesser sums of money. The filing questions “whether the misdemeanor offering was gifted with conditions, or just the Government taking care of its own in a sense of misplaced justice.”
In the original trial, the defense was essentially barred from inquiring further into the agents’ conduct. The government suggested the alleged misconduct was irrelevant as it occurred at times and locations unrelated to “any aspect of the investigation.” However, after the conviction of special agent Carpenter, Dawkins’ attorney, Steve Haney, argues the newly acquired evidence indicates the crime occurred during the sting operation and at a Las Vegas casino, directly contradicting the reasoning presented by the government at trial. Haney continues in the filing to state, “Asking anyone . . . to presume such degeneracy would be limited to one reckless act of brazen thievery is borderline preposterous.”
The motion summarizes the defense’s appeal, “It is more than reasonable to assume that had the Jury been availed with the newly discovered information/evidence . . . that same jury, who acquitted Christian Dawkins on most of the charges against him, would have found him not guilty of the remaining two felony charges.”
Dawkins’ motion has not seen a response. His poorly schemed bribery efforts led to a particularly weak original defense, but he was still found not guilty on four of six charges. The new evidence of the agents’ misconduct and improper behavior could have a significant influence if presented to a jury. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who originally ruled to leave out Carpenter and other disciplined agents from the trial, has the discretion to approve or deny Dawkins’ dwindling hope of avoiding incarceration.