Man linked to sports bribery ring sentence

SAN DIEGO - A key defendant behind a conspiracy involving drug trafficking, the operation of a sports gambling ring and fixing USD men's basketball games was sentenced Friday to 30 months in federal prison.

Steve Goria, 33, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, admitting that he bet on a February 2010 game that USD star guard Brandon Johnson was paid to influence. USD was favored in the game but lost after blowing a big lead.

Goria admitted that the total conspiracy made more than $120,000, according to court documents.

Ten people -- including Johnson, former USD player Brandon Dowdy and ex-USD assistant coach T.J. Brown -- were indicted last year.

Six defendants have pleaded guilty. Trial for Johnson, Dowdy, Brown and Goria's sister, Lilian, is set for trial Dec. 3.

The federal investigation -- dubbed "Operation Hook Shot" -- started as a marijuana distribution case when Steve Goria was arrested in 2008 with nearly $105,000 in cash at the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in San Clemente.

The case then expanded into a sports bribery investigation, federal authorities said.

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