Sterling Heights Man Sentenced for Sports Bribery
A Sterling Heights man was sentenced to almost six years in federal prison today for sports bribery, fraud and unlawfully possessing a gun, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Anthony V. Mohatt, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith sentenced Ghazi Manni, 58, to 70 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay restitution of $700,000 and to forfeit $700,000 to the government.
According to court records, between December 2005 and December 2006, Manni and codefendant Mitchell Karam, who is awaiting sentencing, paid money to a professional jockey to influence the results of races at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Florida, and elsewhere. The indictment alleges that Manni and Karam then used the simulcast pari-mutuel wagering system to place bets on the fixed races. Manni pleaded guilty to paying University of Toledo athletes to affect the point spread of football and basketball games in 2005 and 2006. He also pleaded guilty to paying a jockey to fix horse races at a racetrack in Florida from 2004 to 2006. He also pleaded guilty to paying cash for food stamps at King Cole Foods in 2010 and 2011. Manni had been previously convicted by a jury of unlawfully possessing a gun and ammunition, and today was resentenced for those crimes as well.
Before imposing the sentence, Judge Goldsmith noted that Manni’s crimes all were the product of deliberation and spanned long periods. He also noted that Manni’s sports bribery crimes destroyed the careers of the athletes he had corrupted. Judge Goldsmith stated that the sentence was necessary to protect the public from further crimes by Manni.
“These bribery offenses were significant crimes not only because they affected fair play in the particular games and races involved, but also because they exploited young athletes and undermined public confidence in the sports themselves,” McQuade said.
The sports bribery cases were investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The food stamp fraud case was investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.