Ex-USD hoops star sentenced in bribery case: Brandon Johnson receives 6 months in prison

Johnson ordered to surrender in May 31

SAN DIEGO - A former University of San Diego star basketball player who admitted his role in a game-fixing scheme was sentenced Friday to six months in federal prison.

Brandon Johnson, 26, was ordered to report for custody May 31 in Houston, where he lives.

10News learned that Johnson is a youth basketball coach in the Houston area and plans to finish out the season before serving his time.

Prosecutors recommended a one-year prison sentence, while Johnson's attorney, Oliver Cleary, urged U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia to sentence Johnson to probation with no custody.

In court, Johnson stood before Battaglia and said, "I lost everything" and his "… mistake is something I'll regret the rest of my life."

Battaglia said it was a major offense that "… disparaged the integrity of the university and the game of basketball."

He told Johnson that he'd been given a great privilege and said, "You sold it … cheap."  

Battaglia called Johnson's acts "… despicable" and compared him to other athletes tainted by scandal -- Pete Rose, Lance Armstrong, and Roger Clemens.

Johnson pleaded guilty in November to a conspiracy charge, admitting that he unsuccessfully solicited another USD basketball player to participate in the game-fixing scheme. Johnson has maintained that he never personally threw any games at his alma mater.

According to court records, Johnson -- USD's all-time leading scorer in men's basketball -- was a willing accomplice in the game-fixing scheme, making $5,000 to $10,000 to manipulate approximately four games.

Phone conversations secretly recorded by the FBI have Johnson saying he'd be willing to throw "every game."

Following his arrest in April 2011, Johnson told agents that he knew the point spreads of games and admitted receiving several thousand dollars from bettors afterward, but denied throwing any games.

The three primary defendants in the case -- Steve Goria, Richard Garmo and Paul Thweni -- all admitted bribing Johnson to fix USD games during the 2009-10 season.

Outside of the courthouse, 10News asked Johnson about his guilty plea to attempted bribery and his penalty.

"I'm definitely remorseful as far as the school. I apologize to the fans and to the school and everybody else that had faith in me," said Johnson.

He then spoke about faith, saying, "God'll work in my favor. I give glory to God and these guys feel justice has been done, but I don't feel like I'm a menace to society or anything like that."

Johnson also promised to be a better role model.  

"I'm going to keep living, keep fighting. I'm a fighter and always (have) been and God's been on my side since I went to San Diego and got out of San Diego. I got out of this and (I'll) keep trying to play ball and hopefully touch some kids, help them grow and change their lives like God has changed mine," he said.

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