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Bookie sentenced to 30 months in college basketball bribery case

April 12, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • University of San Diego star Brandon Johnson, now at the center of a bribery scheme, celebrates victory against UC Berkeley.
University of San Diego star Brandon Johnson, now at the center of a bribery… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

A sports bookie was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison for a conspiracy to bribe former University of San Diego basketball star Brandon Johnson.

Paul Joseph Thweni, 28, of Spring Valley pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to a single count of conspiracy. Along with the 30 months in prison, District Judge Anthony Battaglia also sentenced him to three years' probation.

Thweni and co-defendants allegedly induced Johnson, the school's all-time leading scorer, to take bribes so that gamblers could win bets in Las Vegas. Johnson has been sentenced to six months in custody and a year's probation.

Earlier this month a former assistant basketball coach at the University of San Diego was sentenced to a year in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy.

Thaddeus Brown pleaded guilty to being the middleman between gamblers and Johnson. Prosecutors said he received $10,000 a game for three or four games during the 2009-10 season.

Nine of 10 people indicted in the scheme have pleaded guilty, officials said.

Steve Goria, who admitted making $120,000 by betting on a game between San Diego and Loyola-Marymount in 2010, was sentenced in October to 30 months in prison.

Oddsmakers had favored San Diego to win but the Toreros lost after blowing a lead.

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Twitter: @LATSanDiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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