It seems that Arizona Wildcats fans across the country are learning how the legal system works this weekend.
As we get further from the initial report by Mark Schlabach that Sean Miller is caught on FBI wiretaps having discussed a $100,000 transaction with former ASM employee Christian Dawkins to land Deandre Ayton, several things have happened.
Miller did not coach Saturday’s game against the Oregon Ducks, however Deandre Ayton still played. This was not surprising given that the FBI and NCAA had cleared Ayton of any wrongdoing based on current available facts earlier in the year. Ayton’s family and Arizona’s outside counsel have both stated the same.
These statements have no impact on the initial report because it never said anything about Ayton’s involvement in the first place. It only implicated Miller.
Now according to Schlabach, Arizona’s legal counsel doesn’t have access to the tapes as well, and has not heard what is on them. Again, not surprising given that they are under a federal seal.
“Those items are subject to a court-imposed protective order, and only the charged defendants have access to those materials,” Arizona’s outside counsel Paul Kelly stated.
Miller has not been charged with anything but Dawkins has. He is charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with three counts of wire fraud and one count of money-laundering conspiracy.
The protective order itself says the following:
“Any material reflecting (i) sensitive identification information (including, but not limited to, names, telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, bank account information, credit card information, other sensitive financial information, and driver’s license information) or (ii) confidential information that could jeopardize the Government’s ongoing criminal investigation (including, but not limited to, video recordings, photographs, audio recordings, judicially authorized wiretap recordings, wiretap applications, and line sheets and transcripts of judicially authorized wiretap recordings) produced by the Goverment in this action is deemed *Confidential Information* and shall be so identified by the Government.”
Schlabach ran with the report because he is confident in his sourced work with people that have knowledge of what’s on these tapes. It’s hard to believe he would unknowingly put his own reputation on the line unless he and ESPN were confident with what they had to work with.
It does appear that whoever leaked the audio or transcripts violated the protective order, and it appears it could have been anyone associated with any of the defendants including Book Richardson, Lamont Evans, Tony Bland, and Merl Code in addition to Dawkins.
Also, the difference between Yahoo! having actual screenshots of emails implicating Richardson and Joe Pasternack is because that’s not government-generated material. It’s possible that the same group of people that are feeding Yahoo! the emails also had access to the tapes, just don’t have copies to provide journalists with. Also, emails are not explicitly listed in the protective order.
Whatever the case may be, it’s still safe to let this play out and see where it goes and not just assume that ESPN is out to get Arizona.