Two sources, one from from one US Attorney’s Office, the other from a different US Attorney’s office, speaking anonymously and independently from one another, have confirmed that the FBI has indeed requested a meeting with John Bond, the former Mississippi State quarterback who claimed that men connected to Auburn quarterback Cam Newton told him that it would take “cash to get Cam” to commit to MSU.
The FBI has also contacted others involved in the scandal, including members of the Mississippi State Athletic Department and representatives from Blinn College in Brenham, TX. The FBI has also requested documents from the City of Newnan, GA and is expected to seek a meeting with Kenny Rogers and “others” in connection with their investigation.
Both sources have requested anonymity since they do not have authorization to speak publicly about the matter, but both either have information about or are involved in the investigation.
As reported in TMZ late yesterday, The FBI is interested in determining whether “young men are being shopped to colleges.” More specifically, according to one US Attorney’s Office source, the FBI is also investigating potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1589, which contains provisions targeting “involuntary servitude” and/or “forced labor,” in addition to potential violations of individual civil rights:
Summary: Section 1589 of Title 18, which was passed as part of the TVPA, makes it unlawful to provide or obtain the labor or services of a person through one of three prohibited means. Congress enacted § 1589 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), which interpreted § 1584 to require the use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion. Section 1589 broadens the definition of the kinds of coercion that might result in forced labor.
(2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.
Late Monday, FoxSports.com reported that Newton left the University of Florida following allegations of academic cheating and theft. Late Tuesday, ESPN.com reported that Cam Newton and his father Cecil, were both involved in “pay for play” discussions regarding the younger Newton’s recruitment. The ESPN.com story suggested that Auburn University may have been involved as well.
One angle of investigation that the FBI is believed to be following is whether Newton and/or members of his family could have been coerced into being “shopped” to various large, prominent Football Bowl Subdivision programs in return for financial remunerations, but also tied to the deal were threats or suggestions that legal action would be taken against Newton and/or members of his family.
As reported in the original ESPN.com story that broke the news of the impending scandal, the elder Newton was under pressure from local code enforcement to spend large sums of money to renovate a deteriorating church, where he served as pastor. Controversy over the church’s renovation and the timeline of the repair work coincide with Newton’s recruitment.
Newton eventually signed with Auburn University in December 2009. The church repair work was performed in spring 2010 and signed off on by local code enforcement staff in fall 2010.
As reported yesterday on MrSEC.com, Cam Newton had racked up a total of 13 traffic violations before leaving the Florida Gators in December 2008.