if you needed any more evidence that college basketball’s most recent scandal is serious business, take a look at who University of Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland has hired to defend him against charges from the federal government.
On Monday high-powered criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman got to work by making a statement to the Los Angeles Times, saying that the allegations were “heartbreaking on many levels” and “this whole thing has been absolutely devastating to his family.”
Lichtman has worked previous defending gangster John Gotti and drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Lichtman has also represented rapper Fat Joe and Kristin Davis, the madam who supplied prostitutes to former New York governor Eliot Spitzer.
Lichtman’s website uses the Gotti trial to promote his efforts noting his work in the “nearly two month federal trial which ended with the dismissal of three murder conspiracy charges, an acquittal on a $25 million securities fraud charge and a deadlocked jury on all remaining counts.”
His ability to get an acquittal in the Gotti trial was considered a display of excellent legal work by law experts.
Guzman is currently facing life in prison on drug, conspiracy and money laundering charges. He gained fame as both a drug dealer and for his frequent escape from Mexican prisons.
Lichtman’s offices are based in New York City and he graduated from Duke University’s school of law in 1990.
Bland was arrested and charged with facilitating payments of $9,000 to two USC players in efforts to ensure they picked particular agents and financial advisers when they turned pro, and accepting $13,000 from those individuals.
Bland played two seasons at Syracuse before transferring to San Diego State. He has worked as an assistant coach at San Diego State and USC, and has been credited for his recruiting acumen as the Trojans have developed into a strong program under head coach Andy Enfield.
Southern California was projected as a potential Top 10 team this season after two players, Bennie Boatright and Chimezie Metu, returned to school after briefly considering the NBA Draft.
Lichtman told The Times that he doesn’t anticipate that Bland will challenge being place on leave at USC. Bland has yet to speak publicly about the allegations. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 10.
“I just spoke to him and the guy absolutely loves USC and appreciates everything they’ve done for him every step of the way in his career, even through now,” Lichtman told The Times. “He wants the USC family to know how much he’s appreciated his time there.”