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Dawkins mum on Arizona’s Miller at trial, denies bribing coaches

Business manager Christian Dawkins arrives to court in New York, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Federal prosecutors have recommended multi-year prison sentences for Dawkins and two other men convicted of fraud for channeling secret payments to the families of top-tier basketball recruits to influence where the players went to school. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — A former aspiring business manager for prospective NBA players insisted Thursday that he never bribed college basketball coaches in exchange for their help in steering players on their rosters to him to sign up as clients.

The denials came when Christian Dawkins was cross-examined as the only defense witness at a college basketball corruption trial in federal court in Manhattan.

Prosecutor Robert Boone confronted Dawkins with statements — captured on recordings from a 2017 FBI sting featuring agents posing as investors in his management business — in which he brags about being tight with several coaches. In one, he says, “I’ve got so many coaches, man. … You’ve got direct access.”

But Dawkins refused to back down from claims that he never paid them off. On direct examination Wednesday, he testified that it wouldn’t make sense to bribe coaches because they don’t have influence over players’ decisions on whom to hire as agents and business managers.

The prosecutor also sought to ask Dawkins about his relationship with University of Arizona head coach Sean Miller. The questioning went nowhere after a judge sustained objections to it.

Miller’s name came up on a wiretap recording played at the trial, but the government never alleged he was involved in the bribery scheme. He has declined to comment.

Dawkins, 26, was testifying in his own defense at the trial in which he and his co-defendant, amateur coach Merl Code, have pleaded not guilty to charges accusing them of conspiring to bribe coaches as schools including Arizona, the University of Southern California, Creighton University and Texas Christian University.

Closing arguments are expected to begin on Friday and continue into next week.

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