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State investigating allegations involving Mayo

May 31, 2008|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The California attorney general's office is investigating whether funds from a sickle cell anemia charity were illegally used to pay for benefits to former USC basketball player O.J. Mayo, a state Department of Justice special agent said Friday.

Special agent Danny Kim in Los Angeles said he is looking into whether "any funds or credit cards were taken or used under the foundation's name and used for other purposes."

The possible charitable trust violations appear at most to be misdemeanors, Kim said.

However, Department of Justice subpoena and warrant power could accelerate investigations by the NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference and a USC probe into any possible wrongdoing by Mayo, his mentor, Rodney Guillory, or Tony Hicks, chief executive of the L.A.-based National Organization of Sickle Cell Prevention and Awareness Foundation.

In a report this month by ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Hicks, also known by the alias Amonra Elohim, was identified as a convicted felon.

Louis Johnson, a former advisor to Mayo, told ESPN that Hicks allowed Guillory to use an American Express card registered to the sickle cell charity.

Hicks was not immediately available for comment Friday, and Guillory did not respond to messages left at his Inglewood home earlier this week.

Guillory, Johnson said, purchased thousands of dollars of clothing, a flat-screen television, several meals and a hotel room in Hermosa Beach for Mayo to stay in with his girlfriend. Johnson reportedly showed ESPN receipts of the purchases.

Kim said he has spent a week reading through some background of the case after it was referred to him by a state deputy attorney general.

Of Johnson, Kim said he's "very interested in talking to him, and reading those receipts over."

Regarding Mayo's possible culpability, Kim earlier told ESPN.com, "I don't think we want to go there. I don't know if there's any penal code charges we can charge him [with] for [accepting goods from Guillory with that card]."

He told The Times, "It's not a big-priority case among all the things we do, I'm not even a big fan of college basketball, but I understand it's important and we'll get it checked out."

This month, Mayo said he had no knowledge of the charity or any possible misuse of its credit card. "I'm totally against that. I know nothing about that. I don't know if [Guillory] did it for family reasons or maybe it was a legitimate [organization]," he told The Times on May 14. "I don't know anything about it. I really don't want to speak about it because I don't know."

Attorney general spokesman Abraham Arredondo declined to confirm the investigation had begun, saying only that the office "seeks to administer the charitable trust laws equitably and efficiently."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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