A former director of men's basketball at the University of Kentucky pleaded guilty Monday to nine counts of aggravated identity theft, this according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Leon A. Smith was part of a scheme that defrauded $1.3 million from professional athletes. Monday's change of plea came two weeks after Smith quietly pleaded guilty on November 20 to five other federal counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
A jury trial had been scheduled for Nov. 28 at federal court in Lexington, but the proceeding was set aside after Smith, 45, pleaded guilty.
Smith had no comment as he left U.S. District Court. The minimum sentence he could receive is two years in prison.
Former Kentucky basketball and NBA player Josh Harrellson was one of Smith's clients, and was awarded more than $1 million in August as part of a separate civil suit.
Smith has repaid more than $500,000 to victims, according to a court document.
Smith was director of men’s basketball operations at UK from about 2001 to 2006 under Coach Tubby Smith and was an assistant athletic director from 2006 to 2009. The Louisville native lettered three seasons as a wide receiver for the UK football team from 1993 to 1995.
Harrellson learned in 2015 that Smith had been taking money from him over a two-year period. To conceal his actions, Smith set up a post office box in Harrellson’s name and had checks mailed to that box without Harrellson’s knowledge. Smith also used money Harrellson earned.
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