The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 5, 2013

Ex-Auburn player indicted in point-shaving scheme

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Auburn point guard Varez Ward has been arrested for allegedly trying to fix games and offering money to teammates to help during the 2011-12 season.

U.S. Attorney George Beck Jr. said that Ward was arrested Monday on counts of bribery relating to a sports contest and conspiracy for allegedly trying to fix the point spread for the Tigers' game against Arkansas on Jan. 25, 2012.

A federal grand jury indictment last week of Ward was unsealed Tuesday. The one-page document did not list alleged co-conspirators but said the scheme continued after that game. Beck said Ward offered to pay teammates to participate in the point-shaving scheme, which was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service.

No attorney for Ward was included in the filing, and the number at the address listed for the player was disconnected. Clark Morris, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Ward was released Tuesday on $2,500 unsecured bond and had his arraignment set for Thursday in Montgomery.

Ward came off the bench in the 56-53 loss to Arkansas but crumpled to the floor after playing only 19 seconds with an apparent leg injury.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee later said Ward took a knee to the right leg he had injured early in his sophomore season with Texas, when he ruptured his quadriceps tendon on a dunk during pregame warm-ups. Auburn still covered the 9 1/2-point spread, but prosecutors said "Ward's scheme was to make sure that Auburn ultimately lost the basketball game."

Ward could face up to five years in prison if convicted and be fined as much as $250,000.

"Watching sports should be entertaining," said Beck, who praised Auburn for its cooperation. "We want the outcome of the game to be based on talent and hard work, not some off-field, back-room deal. Fixing games not only hurts teammates, but hurts the fans and all viewing public."

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