University of San Diego Basketball Bribery Case had its Roots Sown in Marijuana Probe

Written by:
Tyrone Black
Published on:
University of San Diego Basketball

An initial investigation into a marijuana distribution ring evolved into something much bigger.  Police eventually learned of a basketball bribery operation linked to players and an assistant coach at the University of San Diego.  The primary player accused is San Diego’s all-time scorer, Brandon Johnson, who helped his team past the UConn Huskies in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Nine others have been indicted including one individual taken into custody by way of a SWAT team.  Former player Brandon Dowdy,and assistant coach, Thaddeus Brown, were among those charged on Monday. 

The San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday noted that three men - Steve Warda Goria, 32, Paul Joseph Thweni, 26, and Richard Francis Garmo - "sought to enrich themselves through a variety of illegal schemes," including dealing marijuana and betting on college basketball games in which players were offered and paid to affect the games’ outcomes.

Goria and Garmo both filed for bankruptcy in 2009, according to court documents.  The two cited financial problems in their business and personal lives.  Each faced evictions from various properties for unpaid bills since 2008. 

The indictment notes that, in February 2010, Thweni placed bets in a Las Vegas casino on the University of San Diego at the direction of Garmo.  The indictment notes that Johnson “influenced the outcome of a USD game for a monetary bribe.”

Johnson, Goria, Thweni, Garmo and six others are charged with conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conduct an illegal gambling business and distribute marijuana. They face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

- Tyrone Black,

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