Police filed a sworn complaint Thursday against sports agent William "Tank" Black, accusing him and an employe of violating the state's agent law by illegally recruiting Florida Gators.
The complaint states that Black's employee, Alfred Twitty, recruited former Florida football players Jevon Kearse, Johnny Rutledge and Reggie McGrew by offering them cash and other inducements while they were still eligible.
Police charged Black and Twitty with three felony counts of unlicensed agent activity. They could face a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison per count if convicted.
The sworn complaint comes after a nearly yearlong investigation in which police at the University of Florida gathered much of their evidence during a search of Black's offices in Columbia, S.C.
In a statement, police said the investigation was continuing and more charges forthcoming.
The evidence will be turned over to assistant state attorney Bill Cervone in the next week. He will determine whether to final formal charges, which could be a month or more away.
"This means the university police are finished with their part of the investigation," Cervone said. "Now it's in the legal arena."
After the investigation began, all three players fired Black and hired agent Leigh Steinberg.
The players have admitted wrongdoing in sworn affidavits. Rutledge has gone public saying he took money. Kearse has publicly stated that he felt embarrassed by what happened.
Black has maintained his innocence throughout and will continue to do so, said spokesman Michael Butler.
"The charges are without substance," Butler said.
The NFL Players Association ran a concurrent investigation into Black's dealings and recommended his license be revoked for three years. That case is scheduled for arbitration.
The sworn complaint states that Twitty provided cash and other inducements to the players in exchange for their eventual signing with Black's company, Professional Management Inc.
It says Twitty's recruiting efforts were financed and conducted on behalf of Black and PMI.
Twitty is charged with illegal recruitment because he is not a licensed agent in Florida. Black's charges come because he allegedly aided Twitty even though he knew Twitty was not licensed.
Butler said Twitty is not required to be licensed to service players in Florida who are already under contract with PMI.
"Twitty provides services to professional players signed by PMI after their college eligibility is completed," Butler said. "He has never acted in a capacity as a sports agent and is not required to be licensed by the state of Florida. We do not believe any state laws have been violated."
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said the school knew nothing of the illegal recruiting eforts until after the players were off the Gators' roster. He said he did not anticipate any disciplinary action from the NCAA.
"This is not unexpected from what we know," Foley said of the sworn complaints. "This is a case that our police department is committed to bringing to a successful conclusion to, one that prevents this from happening in the future."
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