Auburn Investigations Timeline

Nobody does a timeline like I Bleed Crimson Red.  Check out the Deepwater Horizon Incident Timeline, a comprehensive, 600+ entry chronology of events on the recent Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.  It's by far the most visited page on this site and is being used by researchers, journalists and the interested public all over the world.

Here is a timeline of events regarding the Cam Newton recruiting investigation and a series of federal investigations involving a large number of people connected to Auburn University. Newton's recruiting issue first made headlines on November 4, 2010. But the other matters span a time frames going back much farther.

NOTE: This combined timeline is more about common actors than common actions. There are a lot of the same faces showing up in a lot of the same places. That doesn't mean they're all working together on some massive, dastardly scheme for world (or state, or SEC, or NCAA) domination. But it's still fun to track all these boogs running around bribing legislators, defrauding bank investors and breaking league rules.

Another great resource: www.auburngate.com.

NOTE: Reader comments are now turned on.


June 9, 2009
Colonial Bank is served with a cease and desist order.
 
Cecil Newton, father of then Blinn (Junior) College Quarterback, Cameron Newton, and Pastor/Bishop of the Holy Zion Church of Deliverance, is told by Newnan Georgia code enforcement officials that he must make a series of costly repairs to his church or it will be demolished.

August 14, 2009
Colonial Bank is seized by state regulators and placed in receivership with the FDIC, throwing the banks’ books open to forensic accountants and investigators.

September 2009
Newton returns to the Newnan City Council and says that the church can meet code in “six months.”
According to published reports:

City Council reporter for the Times-Herald, Elizabeth Melville, said Cam Newton's father told the council that another son was signing to a football team and was giving the church some money from the deal.  "He said he had a different son that played football that was being signed on that expected to get a lot of money from a deal.  He was going to be able to give him some and I think he was going to get some from somewhere else.  I think he was going to get some from somewhere else. He explained the origins of where the money would come from at a council meeting and no one was suspicious at the time."

Note: The following entries are taken from an interview Kenny Rogers had with ESPN Radio in Dallas, TX on November 11, 2010.
 
Mid to Late November, 2009
Kenny Rogers, a registered sports agent. meets Cecil Newton.
Rogers contacts John Bell, former Mississippi State Quarterback, and tells him that it will take “cash to get Cam.”
 
November 27, 2009 
Rogers, Cecil, and two unnamed Mississippi State coaches meet at Starkville area Hilton Garden Inn.  Cecil, according to Rogers’ statements,  says it will take " $100,000 to $180,000" in order for his son to play for Mississippi State. One of the two coaches responds  “No, no, I don’t want to hear that.”

November 29, 2009
Rogers contacts Bill Bell, a Mississippi State athletics booster, and leaves a voicemail asking if a deal is in the works. Bell saves the voice mail (See the November 2010 entries).

November 30, 2009 to early December 2009
Bell, Rogers and Cecil Newton participate in a three-way conference call in which a pay-for-play scheme was discussed.  Bell apparently gets nervous and calls Bond, urging him to report the matter to Mississippi State University compliance officials.

Bond calls then Athletic Director Greg Byrne and reports the matter.

Mississippi State declines the pay-for-play offer, but continues to recruit Newton as it would “any other student-athlete.”

December 20, 2009
Cam Newton makes an official visit to Auburn University.

December 31, 2009
Cam Newton gives his verbal commitment to play at Auburn.

January 2010
Mississippi State compliance officials report the pay-for-play offer to Southeastern Conference officials, per SEC policy.

SEC compliance responds with a request for more information. However, Mississippi State delays its response to the SEC while it sorts out eligibility issues connected with a student-athlete in a different sport.

April 2010
The FBI informs several Alabama state legislators that it is conducting an investigation into a scheme to pay legislators for their votes on an upcoming bill to legalize casino-style bingo gambling in Alabama. Investigators also tell them that the investigation involves court-approved wiretaps of their phone conversations with lobbyists.

May 2010
Newton’s church receives a stop work order.

June 2010
Mississippi State notifies the NCAA regarding Newton’s alleged pay-for-play offer. The NCAA contacts the SEC about the matter.

A federal grand jury indicts Lee Farkas, CEO of the failed Colonial Bank partner Taylor Bean and Whitaker, for bank and wire fraud.  Court documents implicate a "senior Colonial officer,” believed to be former Colonial CEO, Auburn booster and Board of Trustees member Bobby Lowder.

Auburn University is made aware of Newton’s recruitment irregularities by the NCAA and SEC.

Early October 2010
The NCAA requests financial records from Cecil Newton.



October 4, 2010
A federal grand jury indicts Auburn booster, casino owner and Colonial Bank board member Milton McGregor and 11 others for bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

October 12, 2010
A federal judge refuses to block the court documents in the McGregor case, and orders them an all future evidence in the case unsealed.

October 21, 2010
Mississippi State Head Football Coach Dan Mullen is asked about Newton’s recruitment by a Rivals.com Radio interviewer. Mullen's response is prophetic: "that’s a long long story ... that’s going to be in the book."

October 28, 2010
Cecil Newton’s church has all repairs completed and approved by the City of Newnan.

November 1, 2010
Sports Illustrated's Lars Anderson publishes an in-depth article on Cam Newton and reports that Cecil Newton made the decision: "It's Auburn."

November 4, 2010
The ESPN Story breaks.

November 5, 2010
John Bond releases a statement.
 
Cam Newton denies wrongdoing.
 
November 9, 2010
ESPN.com’s Joe Schad files a report, claiming that Mississippi State recruiters confirmed that a pay-for-play plan was discussed during two separate phone conversations. In one, Cam Newton told a MSU representative that he chose Auburn because the “money was too much.”

Sources: FBI becomes involved in the case.

November 11, 2010
In an email statement, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom denies that the conference received information about phone calls from Mississippi State.

In a wide ranging radio interview, Kenny Rogers fingers Cecil Newton as the originator of the pay-for-play scheme.

November 12, 2010
According to a report in the Mobile Press-Register Print Edition, dated November 14, the NCAA, Auburn officials and the Newtons hold a meeting on campus on November 12. The NCAA informs Auburn that there are legitimate and credible questions about Newton's eligibility. Auburn officials leave the meeting issuing "no comment" responses to press inquiries.

Auburn is represented by Lightfoot, Franklin and White.  The school denies reports that former Alabama compliance official Gene Marsh is working on the case, despite the fact that Marsh works for the firm.

November 13, 2010
Cecil Newton admits to talking money, per a WSBTV report, but denies that Auburn, Cam or Cam’s mother were aware of his negotiations.

November 14, 2010
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive issues a statement regarding the matter.

November 16, 2010
John Bond is interviewed by the FBI.

Sources say the FBI is also interested in links between McGregor and pay-for-play at Auburn.

November 17, 2010
Bill Bell acknowledges that he has met with the NCAA “last week” and turned over the voice mail messages left by Rogers the year before.

November 18, 2010
A report from an Auburn beat writer cites sources “close to the investigation” of Milton McGregor’s alleged vote buying scheme that the wiretaps from that investigation do not implicate McGregor in a pay-for-play scheme.

This, despite the curious fact that no news reports have even mentioned wiretaps having been used as part of the recruitment investigation. The “internet chatter” goes nuclear.

Bryan D. Fischer confirms that the NCAA is moving investigators from the UNC Agent case to the Cam Newton case in Auburn.

November 19, 2010
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive suspends Tennessee Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl for eight conference games, citing the following clause in the SEC’s constitution:

"The Commissioner has the duty and power to investigate the validity of violations and impose penalties and sanctions against member institutions, their athletic staff members or student-athletes, for practices and conduct which violate the spirit, as well as the letter of NCAA and SEC rules and regulations. This shall include the ability to render prospective student-athletes or current student-athletes ineligible for competition due to their involvement in a violation of NCAA or SEC rules that occurs during the individual's recruitment. The Commissioner also has the authority to suspend institutional staff members from participation in recruiting activities or participation in practice and/or competition due to their involvement in violations of NCAA or SEC rules."


November 24, 2010
Mississippi Secretary of State officials interview Bill Bell as part of the investigation into Kenny Rogers' role in Newton's recruitment.

November 29, 2010
Auburn suspends Cam Newton.

November 30, 2010
Former Auburn Coach acknowledges a program-wide gag order before hanging up on prominent radio host Paul Finebaum.

Auburn applies to the NCAA for Newton's reinstatement.

December 1, 2010
The NCAA reinstatement division declares Cam Newton "eligible."  But the press release suggests that an investigation by the enforcement division is ongoing.

December 2, 2010
The NCAA takes the unusual step of defending its decision regarding Newton's eligibility. 
The statement includes the following, giving further indication of an ongoing investigation:

Q: What’s the difference between the enforcement process and student-athlete reinstatement process?

A: They run independently of each other. The reinstatement process is dealing with the individual student-athlete and his or her eligibility. The enforcement process focuses on institutional involvement or culpability. At times, the student-athlete eligibility issues become ripe within the context of an enforcement investigation. When this occurs, the school and the enforcement staff agree upon facts that are then presented to the reinstatement staff specific to the student-athlete’s eligibility.


December 3, 2010 
Conference Commissioners criticize the NCAA's handling of the matter.

Attorneys for Country Crossings owner Ronnie Gilley request that the April trial of he and fellow BingoGate conspirator Milton McGregor be delayed until September.

December 9, 2010
Mississippi Secretary of State's office interviews Kenny Rogers to determine if laws governing agent activities were violated during Newton's recruitment.

Cam Newton, in an interview with ESPN's Chris Fowler, contradicts two published stories (Link here, link here) in which either he or his father acknowledged that Cecil Newton made the decision that Cam would go to Auburn instead of Mississippi State

December 14, 2010
Almost immediately after hearing oral arguments on nine defendants' motion to move the BingoGate trials, Judge Myron Thompson refuses to do so, but says he will revisit the decision in February.

December 20, 2010
Jarrod Massey, one of the 11 indicted co-conspirators in the BingoGate corruption case, switches his plea to guilty and plans to cooperate with the government.  Massey is a 1994 graduate of Auburn University.

December 21, 2010
Thomas Coker, co-defendant in the BingoGate corruption case, files a motion to compel the government to disclose wiretap and interview information.

December 30, 2010
The government files its response and does not vigorously oppose Coker's motion.

January 5, 2011
Court papers show that prosecutors have expanded their original investigation beyond the scope of the original McGregor Eleven.

Judge Capel grants the government's Ex parte motion
(a single party's plea for court action without involvement of all others), and orders the documents SEALED.

January 8, 2011
Fox Sports reports that the NCAA has been interviewing witnesses in connection with its ongoing investigation into Cam Newton's recruitment.

January 11, 2011
US Magistrate Judge grants Coker's December 21, 2010 motion to compel access to wiretap and interview records.

Auburn defeats Oregon to win the BCS National Championship, but Cecil Newton (who had agreed with Auburn not to attend the game out of respect for his son and in compliance with AU's agreement with the NCAA to limit his access to the program), is photographed in the stands hugging Cam after the game.

January 15, 2011
Cam Newton declares himself eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, leaving teh Auburn fambly after one season.

January 21, 2011
Newton hires an agent who works for the same firm that once represented his brother, Cecil, Jr. The name of the agent representing Cecil Jr rings a bell.

January 22, 2011
Milton McGregor, who is not "all in," seeks to sever his trial from the other defendants in the Bingo case.

January 31, 2011
In compliance with the Court's order, the government produces the last of the evidence redacted from previous evidence surrendered during discovery.

The government seeks a protective order on information it is providing to the defense, suggesting that the expanded probe has been productive and that new defendants are likely to be indicted.

Defendant Coker seeks to have the Court compel the government to reveal the identity of an individual.

February 7, 2011
The Court orders Ronnie Gilley's bond revoked after a contentious, day-long hearing, while lobbyist Jarrod Massey fingers yet another Auburn graduate in the corruption of the Alabama State Legislature.

February 8, 2011
The Court hears oral arguments in a CLOSED hearing regarding Coker and McGregor's motions to compel and the governments related request for a protective order (see entry for January 31 for link).

The Court completes the hearing and SEALS the documents.

February 12, 13 & 14, 2011
More than three dozen court documents, mainly pretrial motions, are filed with the Middle District US Federal Court. Judge Myron Thompson orders a hearing scheduled for February 15 and the government asks that Jarrod Massey be released into the custody of the FBI.

February 15, 2011
The Court hears oral arguments on six motions to continue the trial beyond the April 4 scheduled date. After the hearing, Judge Thompson moves the trial date to the first week of June.

February 16, 2011
FOXSports' Thayer Evans reports that the NCAA is expanding its investigation into Louisiana, regarding recruitment of prospects from Thibodaux.

February 22, 2011

A former Taylor Bean & Whitaker executive plans to plead guilty and cooperate with federal investigators looking into Colonial bank fraud case. She knows where the bones are buried...

Radio show in Huntsville publicizes existence of tapes and text messages with Cecil Newton discussing cash offers from the University of Tennessee and Auburn.

February 23, 2011
Another radio talk show airs the existence of the tapes and text messages.

Desiree Brown, the Taylor Bean exec, pleads guilty.

February 28, 2011
Hearings begin in federal court on the admissibility of wiretap evidence in the BingoGate trial.

March 2, 2011
Colonial Executive Catherine Kissick follows Brown and pleads guilty.

BOMBSHELL: Copies of purported audio recording of Cecil Newton surface at AuburnGate.com 

Judge Myron Thompson denies motions to sever defendants and decides to have all defendants tried at once.

March 10, 2011
US District Judge denies Gilley's appeal of his bond revocation.

March 11, 2011
Federal officials bring charges against Raymond Bowman, former President of TBW, related to the TBW-Colonial scandal. Bowman will later agree to plead guilty and cooperated with investigators.

March 15, 2011
Radio talk show host Scott Moore releases letter from John Bond's attorney, confirming existence of recordings and ongoing natures of investigations by NCAA, federal and state authorities.

March 17, 2011
Colonial Bank's Teresa Kelly guilty plea makes the fourth executive tied to the Colonial failure to cooperate.

March 18, 2011
Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel reopens the wiretap evidence hearing after chastising the prosecution for failing to turn over evidence related to wiretap protocols.

 March 22, 2011
Magistrate Judge Capel convenes--then terminates--the supplemental hearing on the wiretap evidence, and threatens the prosecution with sanctions for failing to comply with his orders.

March 29, 2011
Several Auburn players make outright accusations that they were paid to play at Auburn.

DOJ calls in one of its Top Gun prosecutors for the BingoGate trial.

March 30, 2011
HBO airs Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, in which four former Auburn football players claim to have received improper benefits from boosters and coaches and one also details academic improprieties.

March 31, 2011
A fifth executive pleads guilty in the Taylor Bean - Colonial Bank fraud case.

April 1, 2011
US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel holds another hearing on the suppression of the wiretap evidence.

April 4, 2011
Lee Farkas trial begins with jury selection, opening testimony and the government's first witness.

US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel issues a flurry of recommendations regarding defendants' pretrial motions. One of those recommends that the motions to suppress the wiretap evidence be DENIED.

Forbes Magazine publishes a story
linking the Colonial/Taylor Bean case with BingoGate and AU's NCAA cases.

April 13, 2011
During testimony of former Taylor Bean financial analyst Sean Ragland, jurors hear testimony and a recording indicating that the feds were looking at "Colonial, and nothing else" regarding the fraudulent attempt to obtain TARP funding.

April 15, 2011
Lee Farkas takes the stand in his own defense, and blames Colonial for the financial shenanigans he is accused of.

April 19, 2011
The Lee Farkas trial ends with Farkas' conviction on 14 counts.

April 22, 2011
Bingo defendant Ronnie Gilley pleads guilty and agrees to cooperate with investigators.

May 13, 2011
Prosecutors complain that McGregor is using a "push poll" to influence the jury pool.

Judge Thompson denies all defense motions for dismissal; tells defendants to prepare for trial.

May 18, 2011
Judge Thompson denies motions to suppress the wiretaps, upholding Magistrate Judge Capel's recommendations.

June 6, 2011
Jury selection begins in USA vs. McGregor et al, one of the most anticipated trials in state history.

June 22, 2011
Family Court Judge Patricia Warner steps down from the bench amid a 74-count complaint by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. Warner's campaigns for the bench were allegedly bankrolled by Milton McGregor.

June 28, 2011
Under cross examination, Ronnie Gilley confirms the ongoing nature of the expanded federal probe into criminal wrongdoing.

June 30, 2011
Convicted bank fraudster Lee Farkas is sentenced to 30 years in prison.

July 14, 2011
NCAA VP for Enforcement reportedly tells AU Coach Gene Chizik that their ongoing investigation into the Cam Newton recruitment isn't finished

July 20, 2011
Danny Sheridan tells the Paul Finebaum Radio Network that the NCAA has identified "the bagman" in the Newton pay for play case. . 

July 27, 2011
The prosecution rests in the Bingogate corruption trial.

July 29, 2011
After calling one witness, the defense abruptly rests.

August 11, 2011
After roughly seven days of deliberations, the jury fails to deliver verdicts on most counts and finds no defendants guilty on the counts they agreed on.

August 17, 2011
Danny Sheridan appears again on the Paul Finebaum show, again claims that the NCAA has the identity of "the bagman," and claims to know the name. However, Sheridan declines to reveal the name, citing "advice of counsel."

October 12, 2011
After nearly one full year of investigations, the NCAA releases a statement clearing Auburn University and ending its probe of Cam Newton.

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