Originally created 06/14/05

Former Alabama booster gets 6 months



MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A former Alabama football booster convicted of bribing a high school coach to get a top recruit for the Crimson Tide was sentenced Monday to six months in prison.

Logan Young, 64, also was sentenced to six months home confinement after his release from prison and two years' supervised release.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Breen is allowing Young to remain free pending appeal.

Young said he was not upset that his chief accuser, former high school football coach Lynn Lang, pleaded guilty and avoided a jail term.

"I don't have a problem with that," Young said as he left the federal courthouse. "I'm happy with what I got."

Young said he believes his lawyers have a good chance of overturning the conviction on appeal.

Defense lawyers have argued since Young's trial began that he was wrongly charged for violating a state law. They said a high school coach has no official authority to tell an athlete where to attend college, meaning Young could not have bribed Lang.

Young's lawyers contended he needs a kidney transplant and could not get proper medical care in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Godwin said the government wanted a prison term for Young of 24 to 30 months.

Defense lawyer James Neal said Young could have been sentenced to a fine, probation, house arrest or a combination of alternatives other than prison.

Defense lawyers gained some ground Monday with Breen declining to find that the player at the center of the scandal was a "vulnerable victim," a status that could have meant a longer prison term for Young.

Breen had continued the hearing Thursday after defense arguments focused on an interview by The Commercial Appeal in which Lang claimed the family of the player, defensive lineman Albert Means, got part of the payoff money.

Defense attorney Robert Hutton argued Monday that Means wasn't hurt by the scheme.

Pointing to the player's testimony that his coach arranged for another person to take his college entrance exams, Hutton said, "As a result of this conspiracy, he was able to attend college."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Godwin told the judge that even if Means' family got some money, "that doesn't change Albert Means age, it doesn't change that he was a senior in high school."

Breen had given defense attorneys permission to subpoena Lang for the hearing, but they didn't and the former coach wasn't in court.

Lang said Young paid $150,000 to get Means to sign with Alabama five years ago. In the newspaper article, Lang said the Means family got about $60,000.

The NCAA has said Means was unaware his football talents were being brokered. Means refuses to talk about Lang's allegations.

Young was convicted in February of racketeering conspiracy and bribing a "public servant." He also was convicted of structuring bank withdrawals to hide a crime, a conviction for which his jury ordered a forfeiture of $96,100.

Lang testified at Young's trial that other universities, including Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Memphis, Mississippi, Michigan State and Tennessee, offered him money or jobs to get Means.

No charges were filed against anyone with those schools. Three former coaches, Rip Scherer of Memphis, Jim Donnan of Georgia and Ivy Williams, an Alabama assistant, testified Lang was lying.

Means' recruitment became part of an NCAA investigation that led to sanctions against Alabama in 2002, costing the Crimson Tide scholarships and bowl appearances.

Lang, the former head coach at Trezevant High in Memphis, lost his job because of the recruiting scandal and now lives in Michigan.

He testified against Young while waiting to be sentenced on a guilty plea to crossing state lines as part of a racketeering conspiracy. Prosecutors supported Lang's request to avoid prison and he was sentenced to two years probation and 500 hours of community service.

Means transferred to Memphis after one season at Alabama and finished his college eligibility last season.