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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 23 Jun 2020 09:00
The FBI investigates the ties between Boston College basketball players and Jimmy Burke’s crime ring. As the point-shaving trial gets underway, the athletes discover there’s a larger game being played—and they’re the pawns.
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It's the morning of September 8, 1980. Inside a small house on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Rick Coon lies stretched out on a bed. It's his childhood bed, and there's a poster or a fairer faucet hanging on the wall. The bedside clock reads 6.30 a.m., but Coon is already awake. He woke up early, full of nerves, and couldn't fall back asleep. Today's a big day for him. Later this morning, Coon's going to propose to his girlfriend, Barbara Reed, and Viher to go ring shopping. He's anxious for the day to start. He's already gotten dressed. A former basketball player at Boston College, Coon put on his lucky gold necklace and his favorite Hawaiian shirt. Then he lay back down on the bed. He takes a deep breath, imagining how the day is going to play out. Right then, he hears a knock on the door. He sits up. Coon's father pokes his head in the room and says there are two men in the living room wearing suits, and they want a word with Rick. Coon stares at his dad, dumbfounded. Who wants a word at 6.30 in the morning? He gets up and follows his dad down the hall. When he reaches the living room, sure enough, he finds the men. They both have short, cropped hair and stern looks on their faces, and they're wearing nearly identical brown suits. Coon's father hovers nearby. One of the men turns and greets Coon. Good morning, Mr. Coon. I'm Special Agent James Byron. This is Special Agent Thomas Sweeney. I apologize for the early hour, but we need to talk with you about a serious matter. You do. What kind of serious matter? Someone has brought allegations of point shaving involving the Boston College basketball team. You played on that team during the 1978–79 season, correct? All morning, Coon has felt twisted nerves as he's thought about proposing to Barbara. But immediately, those feelings evaporate, replaced by bolts of terror. Point shaving. How could the FBI possibly know about that? Mr. Coon? Uh, yes, I did play on that team. Okay, good. We were wondering if you could look at a few photos. Tell us if you recognize any faces. Coon glances over his father. He takes a deep breath. Oh, we're sure. But could we take this outside? Don't need to bother my parents. That's fine. Talk in the car. Coon's mind races as he follows the agents to an unmarked forward part of the curb. He figures if they wanted to arrest him, they'd have done it by now. So this is just an inquiry. He knows he needs to just talk slowly and play cool. Coon gets in the back seat and Agent Byron slides in next to him. The other agent gets in front and pulls out a notebook. Coon turns a Byron. This conversation couldn't wait until a little later in the day, knowing that Mr. Coon I'm afraid not. So let's jump right in. First I'd like you to take a look at these photos. Coon takes the first photograph. The faces of Rocco and Tony Perla stare back at him. His heart begins to pound. These two individuals are from this area, I believe you're acquainted with them. Coon nods. He and Rocco have been friends since high school. There's no point in denying that. And this gentleman is Paul Maisie. This, this is Henry Hill. Our understanding is that several of the Boston College basketball games were fixed to profit these gamblers. Wow, really? Yes, Mr. Coon. So our question to you is, what do you know about that? Coon looks at the agent and then back down at Henry Hill's menacing face. Right away he starts to think about Barbara and all the plans he had for today. He swallows hard and looks back at the agent, who is a blank, unreadable expression on his face. Rocco knows he probably won't be ring shopping today after all. Maybe not ever. Where exactly this day is headed, he doesn't know. But right now, the signs don't look good. American scandal is sponsored by the new ABC drama Alaska Daily. When an indigenous woman goes missing in Alaska, it sparks new questions about other missing and murdered indigenous women. And that's where the thrilling new ABC drama Alaska Daily begins and where it's headed will have you on the edge of your seat. Two time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank stars as Eileen, a veteran reporter who joins a team of local journalists working to bring the truth to light. From Academy Award winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy, Alaska Daily premieres Thursday, October 6th on ABC and streams next day on Hulu. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes and conspiracy theories together and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scandal. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scandal. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American scandal. In the late 1970s, college basketball was home to a lucrative gambling scheme. The mobsters and players at Boston College orchestrated a plan, one that would change the outcome of games in order to win bets. But the scam took a turn when Boston's players failed to dump a critical game. The gamblers lost big but didn't take their revenge. Ultimately, the players from Boston College would live to see graduation and the point shaving scheme seemed like a closed chapter. Then, the mobster Henry Hill got himself arrested on narcotics charges. He faced a staggering prison sentence and so he began to cooperate with authorities, offering information about the gambling scheme. The government saw a golden opportunity to prosecute the mob even if that meant going after young athletes. This is episode three, The Final Score. It's September 8, 1980. Ernie Cobb walks down a carpeted hallway and slides a key into a door. He opens it up and steps into his room at the holiday inn in North Bergen, New Jersey. Cobb's legs feel achy. He's tired but he's also pleased after today's morning practice at the New Jersey Nets training camp. Cobb changes out of his tracksuit and turns up the volume on the bedside radio. Finally, things are looking hopeful again. Last year, Cobb's NBA dreams almost came true when he was drafted by the Utah Jazz, but just as quickly, his hopes were crushed when the jazz cut him during training camp. Now Cobb is close again. He's been shining with the Nets. He recently got hot and scored 28 points in a preseason match with the Celtics. And today, the Nets coach chose him for the starting scrimmage. It's a good sign. One that says he'll make the final roster. Everything he's worked so hard for seems to be finally coming together. Cobb opens a dark yellow curtains and a flood of light fills the room. Feels warm and soothing on his tired body. He could almost fall asleep standing up. Which suddenly, there's a knock on the door. Cobb walks across the room and answers it. Two men in brown suits stand in the dim green hallway. They raise gold and FBI badges in unison. Mr. Cobb, good morning. I'm Special Agent John Bow with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and this is Special Agent Kirby. Could you spare a few minutes to talk with us? Talk. What about? Mr. Assistant, we're hoping you may have some insight into. It has to do with your time at Boston College. Ernie Cobb freezes. What do they know about Boston College? How did they even find him here? He forces a smile and invites the agents in. What? How'd you find me? We talk with some individuals at the Nets training facility. This comes like a punch. If the FBI went to the gym, that means the team knows the authorities are looking for him. He can see his NBA chances going up in flames right in front of his eyes. Cobb sits on a bed. Agent Bow takes a seat across from him. The other agent leans against a desk, had a paper in hand. So agents, how can I help you? Mr. Cobb, allegations have been made that during your time at Boston College, basketball players colluded with gamblers to shave points on games and manipulate the final outcome. Cobb folds his hands in his lap. Tries to look surprised. We'd like to show you some photographs, so if you recognize any of these individuals. Agent Bow hands over five mug shots. Cobb looks down at them and immediately recognizes Rocco Perla, the man who asked him if he would fix games. But Cobb doesn't let on. Instead, he flips past Rocco like he's a stranger. These guys look like mobsters that have that look, you know? These are photos of Henry Hill, Paul Maisie, Rocco Perla, Tony Perla, and this last individual was a man by the name of James Burke. Do any of these men look familiar? No sir, they don't. I mean, this man. Hill? He looks vaguely familiar. Maybe, uh, talking to someone at one of the games, but, um, choosing Hill seems like the smart play. During the season, Cobb had seen him talking to Rick Coon, but Cobb himself never spoke to him. Anyone else, Mr. Cobb? No. What, thankfully? Sorry, I had to drive here for nothing. That's all right, Mr. Cobb. Now, Agent Kirby here is going to hand you an interrogation advice rights form. If you could just fill that out and sign it, we have a couple more questions. Wait, am I being arrested or something? No, Mr. Cobb. At this juncture, we're just gathering information. This document is only to verify that your statement is true. If it's not, you would be held accountable in court. Ernie Cobb takes the paper and tries to read what it says, but everything feels like it's spinning, including the words on the page. Cobb begins checking off boxes one at a time, but there's only one thought on his mind. And that's that he's innocent. He only accepted a thousand dollars, and it was for a game he'd already played. He was a token of appreciation completely after the fact. He didn't fix games. Cobb then thinks about the NBA. The only way to keep his reputation clean is to be upfront and maintain his innocence. He signs and hands the document over, then takes deep breath. He announces that he does, in fact, recognize some people in the photographs. The two agents nod. As they take down his statement, Cobb prays that this will all blow over quickly. He's too close to his dream. He can't risk it now. It's February 16, 1981. Jim Sweeney sits inside a pickup truck in Trenton, New Jersey, across from a newsstand. In his lap is the latest issue of sports illustrated. The magazine just hit the stands today, and the cover has a flashy image, a shower of $100 bills pouring through a basketball hoop. The headline reads, Anatomy of a Scandal. Sweeney's handshake as he flips through the featured article. Right there on the printed page are photos of himself. His eyes dart as he surveys the other photos of Rick Coon and Ernie Cobb. Sweeney stares in disbelief at the article's byline. The piece was written by none other than the mobster Henry Hill. Sweeney stares dumpstruck. Here in Glossy Prince is the entire story about the point shaving scam. The article describes the initial meeting at the Hilton Hotel and continues to the final, fateful game between Boston College and Holy Cross. As he reads the story, Sweeney feels weak. Sick even, and he thinks back on everything that's happened in the last few months. Back in September, he met with federal agents. He was a sweaty mess, and he quickly broke down and told them everything. How he learned about the scheme from Rick Coon, how he'd grudgingly accepted money after the Harvard game. Sweeney told the agents that he'd felt threatened and afraid all season long. When the meeting ended, Sweeney was sure that he'd be fine. He thought he could go back to his life. But this sports illustrated article changes everything. Sweeney carefully reads the article. It becomes perfectly clear. He comes across as a greedy hustler. The article says he was fluent in betting and point spreads, and that he pinpointed the matches he could rig. Henry Hill describes him as a liar and a hypocrite, someone who tries to look like a choir boy, but who's actually a con man willing to corrupt college sports. Sweeney drops the magazine. Out the window, he can see shoppers, buying the same sports illustrated issue from the newsstand. He closes his eyes, and he imagines that millions more across the country are all reading about his alleged deeds. Sweeney leans his head against the headrest and fights back tears, and he knows then he'll have to do whatever it takes to clear his name. It's the morning of October 27, 1981, eight months after the sports illustrated article hit the newsstands. Henry Hill yons and stretches his arms. He's in the back of a Cadillac de Ville, and wearing a three piece mint green suit, his head buzzes from Valium and two shots of whiskey. Today, US marshals are escorting Hill from a special underground hotel in Manhattan, one that's used strictly for witnesses who require special protection. The Cadillac crosses the Brooklyn Bridge, and Hill looks out over his old stomping grounds. He thinks back on the money, and thrills, and drugs, and he shakes his head. Now that he's in the witness protection program, all of that has gone. These days, Hill and his family live in suburban Cincinnati. He has a new name and a new life. Talk about change, some of his neighbors have never even tasted marinara sauce. Hill is a nobody, living on a government stipend of what feels like pennies. So who can blame him for accepting 10 grand from sports illustrated? They wanted to tell all about the Boston scam, and that's what he delivered. The government prosecutor Ed McDonald had been livid, but Hill doesn't know how else he can scrape together some money now that he's a rat and naming names. And even though he's in witness protection, Hill is still on edge. The Cadillac heads deeper into Brooklyn, and Hill can't help but scrutinize every passing car. He keeps imagining it, vividly, every driver veering over, pulling out a pistol. Lord knows Jimmy Burke wants him dead badly enough. When up ahead, Hill sees the United States District Courthouse. The car pulls past a crowd of news reporters and cameraman, all there for the trial. When the car pulls into an underground parking lot, Hill steps out and a half a dozen marshals surround him. Their faces are grim, their firearms ready. They shuffle him into an elevator, and then they step out into a cavernous courtroom that's overflowing with people. At the far end of the room sits the judge, Henry Bramwell. Hill doesn't like the look of him. Bramwell is looking down, frowning at his notes, seemingly unimpressed by the massive crowd. Yeah, Hill knows a tough disciplinarian when he sees one. He sighs and looks over to where the defendants and their lawyers are huddled. He immediately recognizes familiar faces, Rick Coon, the Perla brothers, and his old prison buddy Paul Maisie. But there's one more defendant who's back has turned to Hill. He's in a conservative gray suit like one of the lawyers, and as if on cue, man turns and locks eyes with Hill. It's Jimmy Burke. Hill has played this moment a thousand times in his head. He's tried to imagine how he'd face his murderous old friend, but nothing could prepare him for this moment. Burke's cold gaze of contempt hits Hill like a mallet. Whatever resolve he once had is now gone. In his place is a feeling of feebleness and terror. Hill drops his eyes. He's chosen betrayal over death. But right now, as he suffocates under the weight of Burke's stare, he wonders whether death might have been less painful. Across the courtroom, Rick Coon watches as Henry Hill is led to a seat behind the prosecutor. Coon sits between Tony and Rocco Perla. Today, the basketball player is looking sharp, wearing a new baby blue three piece suit. He hopes it makes him look out of place among all these mobsters. Coon glances around the packed courtroom. He still can't understand how he ended up in federal court. He takes a deep breath and repeats what his lawyer told him. He has little to worry about. His lawyer said that this whole trial is really about Jimmy Burke and the lift hot is a heist. Coon is just a pawn, as the government pursues the mobster. The best legal strategy then is to sidestep all the nitty gritty legal definitions. Instead, they need to focus on the issues of government overreach and exploitation. They just want to take down Jimmy Burke. Coon doesn't deserve to be caught up in the crossfire. Coon prays that this is the right strategy. He watches as all the lawyers in the courtroom shuffled their papers, getting ready to make their opening statements. Coon swallows hard and repeats the same thing he's told himself for days. There's nothing to worry about. He's going to leave this trial a free man. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion? Where you woke up in the morgue, or you were seriously injured, miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening, brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. This episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening, is available ad free only with Wondry Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's late afternoon on October 27, 1981. Inside the US District Court in Brooklyn, the packed courtroom hums with anticipation. Ed McDonald sits at the prosecutor's table, staring intently at his notes. Ed McDonald turns the defense table and looks at the middle aged man in a gray suit. McDonald holds back a grin. Finally, he thinks he's brought the notorious Jimmy Burke into a courtroom. McDonald knows in his gut that Burke was a ringleader behind the lift haunts a heist. He just couldn't find proof of it, especially not with Burke killing off every witness. But now, McDonald has a way to get to the infamous mobster. He admits the case is unsavory. In order to gather evidence against Jimmy Burke, McDonald had to let Henry Hill walk free. It's a bitter trade off, but it's all in service of the larger cause. McDonald looks over at Judge Bramwell. This sits on the bench in his stiff dark robes. The jury will decide whether the men are innocent or guilty, but Bramwell alone has the power to choose the sentencing. That means McDonald has to make his case to Bramwell too. And if he's successful, the judge will send Burke to prison for the rest of the mobster's life. McDonald gathers up his papers, rises and crosses the courtroom. The crowd begins to settle. By the time McDonald reaches the jury box, the room is hushed. There in front of the jury, McDonald silently appraises the 12 men and women. Finally, he holds up his papers. These he tells the jurors are eight pages of indictments against the men seated at the defense table. It's a case of conspiracy. McDonald reminds the jury. He doesn't need to prove that these men were successful in fixing every game. He only needs to show that the men conspired to do so. McDonald turns and points at the co defendants seated across the room and then looks back to the jury as I solemn. He tells the jury that this isn't just about breaking the law. It's also a case of greed, corruption and disloyalty. These men are the worst of criminals, he says. And they try to destroy college sports. McDonald gazes across the faces of the jury. Their eyes are alert and focused. He has their attention. Good he thinks. Now he needs to hold it through the next couple of weeks, just long enough to achieve his goal. Finding Jimmy Burke, guilty on all counts. Just before 4pm that same day, Ed McDonald once again rises from the prosecutor's table. It's time to call his first witness. Heads turn as a wiry man and bright green suit approaches the stand. McDonald waits as the man Henry Hill is sworn in. McDonald can see Hill's eyes dancing around the room. He looks nervous, squeamish and he's avoiding eye contact with Jimmy Burke, who sits stone faced and staring at his former friend and associate. McDonald quickly goes to work. He asks Hill to tell the full story and to explain how Jimmy Burke was involved in all of it. He'll nod to his head and carefully lays out the details. He describes meeting Paul Maisie in prison, how he was locked up because of a job that he did with Burke. He'll explain that once he got out of prison, he and Maisie cooked up the point shaving scheme at Boston College. He'll then pause and looks away. McDonald grows nervous. This is a bad sign. This is the key moment when Henry Hill can bring together the entire case and implicate Jimmy Burke. McDonald catches Hill's eyes and gives him a strong and encouraging nod. Hilla vets his gaze, takes a deep breath and looks back up. He goes on to describe the day he traveled to Roberts Lounge in Queens, New York City. In the basement of the bar, he and other men met with Jimmy Burke. Together they got Burke to finance the bets for the point shaving scheme. And Burke provided a network of bookies, which was key to the whole plan. McDonald pauses and quickly steals a glance at the jury. He can tell they're hooked. The crimes are obvious and now not only are all five defendants tied together, but there's no denying that Jimmy Burke was in the center of it all. It's the afternoon of November 2nd, 1981, five days into the trial. Rick Coon takes a seat at the defense table. Today he's wearing a chocolate brown, cordoroise suit and plugs at the lapel trying to calm his nerves. He's been waiting for this day since he first saw the list of witnesses. This afternoon, his former best friend is taking the stand. Once the room, prosecutor Ed McDonald rises and asks for the next witness. Jim Sweeney emerges from the back of the courtroom. He walks to the witness stand in a blue pinstripe suit holding his back straight in his head high. Coon stares at Sweeney, waiting for him to look over. But Sweeney's eyes remain locked on McDonald as he takes a seat and is sworn in. McDonald begins by walking Sweeney through the highlights of his Boston College career. His basketball awards and impressive GPA is volunteering with a local church. Soon rolls his eyes. Sweeney then talks about his wonderful new job and his recent marriage to his college sweetheart, Mora. Lucky him thinks Coon. The golden boy just keeps on winning. McDonald paces back and forth at the front of the courtroom. Jim, would you mind describing to the court how you first heard of the point shaving scheme? Of course. I was at the Boston College gym and we just finished basketball practice. Rick followed me out and started talking with me. You're referring to Rick Coon. He's still won't look over at Coon. Instead, his eyes remained fastened on the attorney, McDonald. Yes, Rick Coon. He mentioned that friends of his wanted to bet on our games. He said it could be beneficial to us if we helped them out. Help them out. Meaning what? Shaving points, keeping the score down? That's correct. And what was your response to Mr. Coon at the time? I told him that's illegal and I don't want any part of it. Coon's eyes pop open. Is he serious? Coon didn't turn down the proposition. At best, he was ambivalent. That's how Coon knew that Swini could be brought in. Okay, Jim. Let's address the elephant in the room, all right? There's a sports illustrated article that paints a pretty unflattering picture of you, beginning with your introduction to Henry Hill at a Hilton Hotel. Can you speak to that? Swini nods. He describes how Coon lured him to the hotel, pretending they were having dinner with Eagles fans, but then Coon, his friend, immediately disappeared. And that meant he was left alone with Henry Hill. At the defense table, Coon clenches his fists. Swini is clearly scapegoating him. And when Mr. Hill proposed the point shaving scheme, what was your response? At first, I said I didn't want to do it. And then I agreed to cooperate. Why would you, someone with so much going for him, agree to that? Was it the money? No, sir. Money's never mattered to me. Coon nearly starts laughing. Did Swini just say he wasn't interested in money? He seemed plenty interested when he was buying jewelry for his girlfriend, using cash that Coon had given him. I was frightened, sir. Mr. Hill threatened me with physical violence. Somehow he knew the name of my girlfriend, Moira, the woman who is now my wife. I felt threatened. I felt scared. And did Rick Coon ever give you money? Here we go, thanks Coon. Lie your way out of this one. I wouldn't say give. He shoved $500 at me after the Harvard game. I told him I didn't want it. He said he was too late and basically tossed it at me. Sir, I know it was wrong to take that money, but Rick was threatening too. And I was afraid of what would happen if I didn't take it. Coon shakes his head and listens as Swini describes the rest of the season. He says he only pretended to go along with the scheme, and that makes Coon want to yell at the top of his lungs. Swini's testimony is wall to wall lies. He must have made some deal with the FBI, a way to stay out of prison if he said what they wanted him to. Mr. Swini, before I let you go, I just want to ask if you have been testifying under any agreement from the United States government. Rick's face slowly starts creeping up into a smirk in spite of himself. Now the choir boy will have to admit he sold his friends down the river to avoid getting in trouble. No, sir. There was never any charge it brought up against me. I'm under no obligation to say what I've said. Then Coon smirk banishes. It dawns on him. His old friend didn't have to blame him for everything. Swini is taking him down by choice. Coon stares at Swini as he steps down from the witness box, but Jim Swini never so much as Goliens is over. Instead, he straightens his pinstripe suit jacket and walked out of the courtroom. It's November 18, 1981. Inside the courthouse in Brooklyn, Ed McDonald sits at the prosecutor's table and prepares his closing statements. He spent the last two weeks painting a vivid picture of these criminals actions. Still, none of that matters if he doesn't score a guilty verdict for Jimmy Burke. Today is his last best chance to sway any member of the jury who's still on the fence. McDonald stands and walks to the jury box. He looks them over, his face stern and authoritative. He begins addressing the 12 men and women of the jury, saying that he attended Boston College and played on the Eagles basketball team. It was one of the greatest chapters of his life. And that's because he learned the spirit of good sportsmanship and fair play. It's at the heart of college sports. McDonald sees a couple jurors give a slight nod. It's a good sign. He points at the defendant's voice rising. To these men, McDonald says such values mean nothing. The only thing they care about is making money. McDonald steps away and walks up to Jimmy Burke. He returns the mobster's stony glare and then he turns back to the jury and continues. McDonald explains that college sports is a sacred thing. These men try to destroy what makes it so special. They couldn't be satisfied with horse racing or fixing boxing matches. They had to take their dirty money to a small, Jesuit college in Boston. They had to meddle with kids. Today, McDonald argues the members of the jury can take a stand. They can defend the sanctity of college sports they can deliver a guilty verdict. McDonald exhales and thanks to jury. And with that, the prosecution rests. McDonald knows he's played his best possible game. But the final score is in the jury's hands. It's November 23, 1981, a gray morning in downtown Brooklyn. Inside the federal courthouse, Rick Coon has seated alongside his co defendants. He is a view of the city skyline, but his eyes are fastened on the mahogany door that leads to the jury deliberation room. Because behind it, 12 strangers are deciding his fate. Coon mulls over the charges that were brought against him. On the count of bribery, he's confident he'll be found innocent. His lawyer said as much. It's another charge Coon is worried about. Conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering. That one's more complicated. And a guilty verdict would mean he'd have to face sentencing and time in prison. Coon turns to Rocco Perla, who sits beside him. His old friend looks just as nervous. Coon tries to make some conversation to put them both at ease. I still can't believe Jim Sweeney doesn't have one single charge against him. And I have three. Explain that to me Rocco. Well Rick, McDonald wasn't after you. He was after the mob. And he only needed one of you guys to make the connection. Well sorry Rick, but you're a whole lot easier to prosecute than that poster boy. When I get out of here, I'm going straight over to Sweeney's eye swear. Perla smiles and opens his mouth to speak. But just then the jury room door swings open. Coon watches the jurors file into their seats without saying a word. The four woman remains standing. Coon's heart starts to pound. His breath goes shallow. Then he feels a hand on his shoulder. He turns and finds Perla with a look of shock on his face. Oh my god. What? Four woman. Look at her hands. They're empty. Empty. Yeah. There's no list. She's not reading any indictments. Coon stares baffled. He sees Judge Bramwell lean forward and address the four woman. Has the jury reached its verdicts? Yes Your Honor we have. That's when Coon finally realizes why Rocco Perla looks so pale and shaken. There are multiple co defendants in this trial. They've got enough charges to fill an eight page list. The four woman couldn't possibly remember who's innocent and who's guilty of which charges and less. And less, there aren't going to be any individual verdicts. All of them will either be found innocent or guilty of every single charge. The judge asks all the defendants to stand. The four woman clears her throat and makes her pronouncement. For all the co defendants, on all counts, her answer is the same. Guilty. Rick Coon stands, feeling like his legs are sinking into the ground. With this sentence, he's been thrown together with lifelong drug dealers and Jimmy Burke, a murderer. The judge looks over the defendants and announces that sentencing will be deferred. Coon will return to court in February. Coon stares in a day is at the harsh phase of Judge Bramwell. This future now rests completely in this man's hands, and with a sharp wrap of the gabball, trial is done. It's February 5th, 1982, and about two months after the trial. Today, Rick Coon is back in federal court for his sentencing. He's trying to look his best today. He cleaned up his mustache and put on a brown, three piece suit, his lucky outfit. Coon looks around the courtroom. The jury box is empty, and there are fewer onlookers and reporters than there were at his trial. But for Coon, the stakes are higher than ever. Today, he'll learn whether he's going to jail and if so, for how long. One person determines his fate. That man, Judge Henry Bramwell, sits on the bench, reviewing his notes. A solitary court reporter sits below and waits. Coon's parents sit beside him. He also sits alongside his lawyer, who insists there are reasons to be optimistic. Coon has no criminal history, and because of that, the lawyer says he'll probably receive probation. In the worst case, he'll get a few months of jail time plus community service. Coon's lawyer points across the room where Ed McDonald, the prosecutor, is seated and waiting. Even McDonald expects a light sentence, the lawyer says, before patting Coon on the shoulder. Coon hopes his lawyer is right. But still, the uncertainty has been a nightmare these past two months. Coon has barely been able to eat or sleep, not alone talk with anyone. He's almost relieved to be here today, if nothing else, he'll be able to get on with his life. Finally, Judge Bramwell nods at the bailiff, and Coon is asked to stand. The court reporter lifts her hands to the stenotype machine. Coon rises, alone. The judge lays out the charges that Coon has been found guilty of, and then pauses, staring down at the 26 year old. Coon swallows and holds his gaze. In a clear voice, Judge Bramwell announces that Rick Coon is sentenced to 10 years in prison. There's a murmur from the small crowd and a sharp gasp from Coon's mother. Coon stands frozen, confused. He must have heard the judge incorrectly. He looks to his lawyer whose face is ashen. He glances to his right. Even Ed McDonald, the government's merciless prosecutor, seems completely baffled. Coon looks back to the judge. Bramwell repeats that Coon will serve a 10 year sentence. He'll serve it as an example to all those players who may be tempted to accept illegal money for personal gain. Coon feels weightless, confused, dizzy. He drops back into a seat. He repeats to himself this unthinkable fact. He'll spend the next decade in jail. His whole future just evaporated before his eyes. It's two years later, on March 23, 1984. Ernie Cobb enters the U.S. District Courthouse in Brooklyn dressed in a new blazer and tie. It's the final day of his trial for point shaving. Today, he'll hear the jury's verdict. Inside the courtroom, Cobb looks over the audience. He sees his mom and dad sitting together with his girlfriend, LeVern. His family believed him when the sports illustrated article was published, and Cobb insisted he was innocent. But most people had not. Among those who did not believe him were the new Jersey nets. The team's head coach, Summon Cobb, into his office just days after Cobb spoke with the FBI. The coach broke the bad news. Cobb was being let go. And after that, no NBA team would touch him. Cobb wasn't charged in the Jimmy Burke trial, and he thought he was finally passed a whole affair, but he quickly found that his name was tainted. It was hard to find a job, and he had to make a living selling copy machines and paving dryways all while being snubbed by one NBA team after another. But finally, his fortune took a turn for the better. Cobb got a chance to play professional ball in Israel, and was quickly recognized as one of the best players in the league. Once again, he began to dream about a future in the NBA. So in the summer of 1983, Cobb returned to the US for a visit. That's when he was charged with taking cash bribes, as part of his scheme to change the outcomes of Boston College games. And once again, there was a mobster associated with the trial. This time, it was a Mafioso named Paul Vario, Jimmy Burke's boss. Cobb had never even heard of the guy, but he could see that the government was just repeating what they'd done with Rick Coon. Cobb was a pawn in the prosecution of another mobster. Inside the courtroom, Cobb takes his seat alongside his lawyer, in spite of the odds, and against everyone's advice, Cobb insisted on having his day in court. He refused to take a plea deal in return for a reduced sentence. His goal was to finally clear his name. At 11.30am, the jury files into the courtroom. Cobb stands. After a long silence, the four woman finally speaks. He barely gets out the words, not guilty, when Cobb lets out a whoop, and the rest of the courtroom breaks out in cheers. Ernie Cobb is exonerated of all charges, and Vario is acquitted as well. Cobb embraces his girlfriend and family members as a hug and cry. Cobb is filled with a joy that courses through his entire body. It's finally over, he thinks. And yet, deep down, a small voice tells him otherwise. No matter how far Cobb gets from Boston College, it will never be. Never truly be over. After his acquittal, Ernie Cobb attempted to pursue his NBA dreams, but no team would allow him to try out. He returned to Israel to play professional basketball for another 17 years. Rick Coons 10 years sentence was later reduced to four. He was released from prison in 1986 and returned to Pittsburgh. Jim Swini lives in Florida with his wife, Mora. He still maintains his innocence in the point shaving scandal. Jimmy Burke, whose criminal acts went back more than three decades, was sentenced to 20 years. He was never charged in the Lufthansa Heist, and the stolen cash was never recovered. Burke died in prison of lung cancer in 1996. Henry Hill was granted full immunity from all charges and put into witness protection. He was later kicked out of the program, though, for repeatedly breaching security. In 1990, Hill's notoriety reached new heights with the release of the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, in which Ray Leota portrayed Hill and Robert De Niro played Jimmy Burke. In 2012, Hill died of heart disease in a Los Angeles hospital. NCAA rules continued to prevent colleges from paying their athletes. But as of the spring of 2020, the Association is considering a change to its rules to allow athletes to earn money from third party endorsements. The stiff penalties handed down to Rick Coon were intended to send a message to would be fixers, but the subsequent scandals had arrows on a state, Tulane and Northwestern, to name just a few, and suggested the message didn't get through. Next on American Scandal, I sit down with Dan Murphy, an investigative reporter at ESPN who covers college sports. We'll look at the many scandals involving college athletes and money, and we'll discuss how new rules could allow these athletes to profit from their work and drastically change NCAA sports. From Wondery, this is episode three of the Boston College Gamling Scheme for American Scandal. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what was said, but all our dramatizations are based on historical research. If you'd like to learn more about the Boston College Gamling Scheme, we recommend fix by David Porter and the Loftons of Heist by Daniel Simone. American Scandal is hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham for Ayrship, audio editing by Molly Bach, sound design by Derek Barrett's. This episode is written by Charles Olivier, edited by Christina Malsberg, produced by Gabe Riven. The producers are Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer, Beckman, and her nonlopes for Wondery.