Final Athlete Inducement Indictments To Be Unsealed

ORANGE COUNTY – Orange and Chatham counties’ District Attorney Jim Woodall says the final two indictments in the Unified Athlete Agents Act case could be unsealed by the end of this week.

Three people have already been charged with the nation’s first charges pertaining to the UAAA including UNC tutor Jennifer Thompson and Georgia-based real estate agent Patrick Jones and sports agent Terry Watson.

Watson faces 13 felony counts in violation of the UAAA and one count of obstruction of justice, according to court documents unsealed in early October.

Jones is thought to have been a runner for Watson while charges against Thompson focus on money, plane tickets, and hotel rooms she allegedly passed on from Watson to former UNC football player Greg Little.

Next Charged In UNC Football Scandal Might Appear Monday

ORANGE COUNTY – Orange and Chatham County District Attorney, Jim Woodall says a third person indicted on breaking the Uniformed Athlete Agents Act could make his or her first appearance in court Monday morning.

He says it is not confirmed that the court appearance will take place, but that he was told it might take place around 11:00 a.m.

Two people—former UNC tutor, Jennifer Thompson, and Georgia-based sports agent, Terry Watson—have already appeared in Hillsborough at the Orange County Courthouse on charges of breaking the UAAA. Five total indictments have been handed out.

Thompson Indictment First Of Its Kind

ORANGE COUNTY – Orange and Chatham District Attorney, Jim Woodall, says the charges against former UNC tutor Jennifer Lauren Wiley Thompson—commonly know during the investigation of the UNC football team as Jennifer Wiley—are likely the first of this nature handed out in the state and possibly the first in the nation.

“I’m about 99-percent sure in North Carolina, because we’ve not heard of anyone else doing it,” Woodall says. “And, I think if anyone else had done it, it would have gone through the Secretary of State’s office. And, we can’t find anywhere in the country that has indicted anyone under the Uniform Agents Act.”

Thompson is charged with four counts of athlete agent inducement.

Four other indictments have been handed out. Woodall says those records will remain sealed until the defendants have been served. At that time, a court date will be set.

Woodall says he was aware of the investigation by the Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, that took more than three years, but he says didn’t get involved until about a year-and-a-half ago. He says the reason the investigation lasted so long was the sheer amount of information to go through as well as a few snags along the way.

“The Secretary of State’s office had to go to court to get information from the NCAA,” Woodall says. “There was information that the NCAA had that they did not voluntarily turn over. There were several court hearings that were required to get that information, and that took several months.”

An additional hiccup in the investigation came early on when the agent that was being investigated, California-based Gary Wichard, died about a year-and-a-half into the investigation and therefore could no longer be charged. The investigation has since found that Georgia-based agent, Terry Watson, was also involved. Investigators found that Watson sent $2,000, $150, and two round-trip airline tickets to Thompson who in turn passed the money along to former UNC football player Greg Little. The money was meant to entice Little to contact Watson and use him as an agent.

The Uniform Athlete Agent Act has been adopted by 40 states, including North Carolina, and says any agent must register with the state—specifically the Secretary of State in most cases—in order to act as an agent. Watson was registered in Georgia as a member of the Watson Sports Agency. The UAAA is designed to shield athletes from sports agents who would offer gifts to entice them to sign representation contracts while competing on the college level.

“Any time you have a law on the book—if it’s something that’s reasonable and it’s something that makes sense—if you have evidence that it’s been violated—and I do think we have evidence of violation—then I think it’s our duty to proceed and go forward on those kinds of cases,” Woodall says.

Wiley was placed under a $15,000 secured bond and is due in court again Oct. 15.

North Carolina books for spring reading

What should I be reading this spring?

Some of you know that I get this question from my friends each year when the weather starts to warm up. And, you remember, I often respond with a list of a variety of books, each of which has a North Carolina connection and, often, just happen to be scheduled on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch’s upcoming programs.

First up is former poet laureate of North Carolina, essayist, critic, teacher mentor of many of North Carolina’s outstanding writers, recent recipient of the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, and acknowledged by many to be the dean of the North Carolina literary community, Fred Chappell. Every student of North Carolina writing should become familiar with Chappell’s work. His recent book of short fiction, “Ancestors and Others: New and Selected Stories,” showcases his storytelling talents by taking his readers all over the world and then back to people we know in North Carolina. He will talk about the book and his writing career on North Carolina Bookwatch on Friday, May 6, at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 8, at 5 p.m.

Kathy Pories, senior editor at Algonquin Books, is the series editor of “New Stories from the South,” an annual collection of the best short fiction in our region. Reading this collection of authors like Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle is a great way to sample the best of today’s important southern fiction writers. On Bookwatch, Pories answers questions like “What sets southern literary writers apart from other American writers?” and “What makes a short story different from a short novel?” (May 13, 15)

Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton. You probably remember reading about their nightmare stories. She is brutally raped and must live with that trauma for the rest of her life. Then, based on her testimony, Cotton, though innocent, is convicted and spends more than 10 years in prison until DNA evidence proves his innocence. Their poignant story is the subject of the book they wrote together, “Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption.” (May 20, 22)

With the legislature debating whether or not to pass a law making NASCAR North Carolina’s official sport, it is a good time to read Daniel Pierce’s “Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France.” Some North Carolina basketball and baseball fans might disagree, but there can be no argument that for many of us, stock car racing, the NASCAR variety, is their passion. They can tell you how North Carolina moonshiners driving their fast car away from the revenuers got things started. The real story, as told by Pierce, is even more interesting. (May 27,29)

In its review of Wells Tower’s collection of short stories, “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned,” The New York Times reviewer wrote, “This arresting debut collection of stories decisively establishes Mr. Tower as a writer of uncommon talent.” Tower is one of the young North Carolina writers that people all over the country are watching. (June 3, 5)

Raleigh author Scott Huler is the 2011 Piedmont Laureate. Recently, he asked his readers to think about how we are surrounded by electric, telephone, and cable wires, water and sewer lines, utility poles, cell phone towers, roads, and other infrastructures that connect us. Huler followed all these links from his house to their source or final destination. He shares those journeys in his book, “On the Grid: A Plot of Land, an Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make our World Work” and on North Carolina Bookwatch (June 10, 12)

I hope you will save this column and use it as a guide for reading and television viewing in the next few weeks.

Now, what will YOU be reading this Spring?