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Top Adidas executive in Portland charged with fraud, conspiracy

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PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland-based Adidas executive is named as a defendant in a fraud and corruption case involving college basketball coaches and other employees at the sportswear company.

James Gatto, also known as Jim, faces charges of wire fraud conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.

Gatto is accused of conspiring with college coaches to pay high school athletes to play at universities sponsored by Adidas.

In response to Gatto’s federal indictment, Adidas released the following statement:

“Today, we became aware that federal investigators arrested an adidas employee. We are learning more about the situation. We’re unaware of any misconduct and will fully cooperate with authorities to understand more.”

Th FBI and USAO have been investigating the criminal influence of money on coaches and NCAA athletes since 2015, according to court documents.

They claim athletic advisors and apparel company employees are paying bribes to NCAA Division I student athletes and their families in exchange for the student’s commitment to a specific university.

The bribe also asks the athletes to sign agreements to be represented by bribe-payors when the athletes join the National Basketball Association.

Court documents identify coaches involved in the case as Chuck Person of Auburn University, Emanuel Richardson of University of Arizona, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State.

The department of Justice is expected to hold a news conference around 9 a.m. ET.

NCAA president Mark Emmert sent out the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing. We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student-athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation.”

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