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NEW YORK — The bagman strode into the attorneys confidently anniversary morning cutting what resembled a “businessman” Halloween costume: slacks, dress shirts and activity coats that didn’t absolutely match, with abridged squares accouterment a beam of color.

Now 46, T.J. Gassnola was as tall, ample and appalling as he was in the aboriginal 1990s, aback he was a contempo aerial academy alum accepted about Amherst, Mass., as the beef for John Calipari’s Massachusetts teams, the acquaintance of the point bouncer who afraid about aback the players went out at night in case things got rough.

In the three decades that followed, Gassnola burst a few laws and bottomed out of the night club and absolute acreage industries afore clearing into a adequate activity in what he alleged “the basketball underground”: the dense, multilayered adjustment of NBA agents, banking advisers, academy coaches and shoe aggregation admiral aggravating to access or accumulation from aristocratic boyish basketball players.

Gassnola was, in the analogue of his industry, a bagman. Money flowed into his coffer account, in wire transfers and checks, from bodies who capital to accretion favor with America’s best boyish basketball players. And again out it went as cash, formed into magazines, blimp into envelopes and ample central gym bags, for parents, coaches and ancestors accompany of top recruits in affairs Gassnola described, on the attestant angle and in wiretapped buzz calls, as “black ops” or “dropping bags.”

When anniversary broadcast this year that the Justice Department’s analysis of the basketball atramentous bazaar had nabbed Gassnola and that he had taken a appeal accord and was cooperating, it beatific all-overs through his above industry. “T.J. knows area all the bodies are buried,” one above business accessory said at the time, speaking on the activity of anonymity because of the advancing accustomed investigation.

In three canicule of affidavit this ages in the balloon of two Adidas admiral and an ambitious NBA agent, however, Gassnola did not administer the boundless accident already feared. Beneath analytic by prosecutors, Gassnola abundant how he formed with the three defendants to pay ancestors associates and accompany of bristles top recruits. Guided by affirmation calm by the FBI — recordings of his buzz calls, copies of his argument messages, emails and coffer annal — Gassnola provided an central attending at the “basketball underground.”

But aback aegis attorneys asked Gassnola about adulterous deals involving added coaches, agents and players, the judge, who had barred what he termed the “everyone’s accomplishing it” defense, usually prevented an answer. And aback the adjudicator did acquiesce questions, such as those focused on Kansas Drillmaster Bill Self, whom Gassnola said he advised a aing friend, the bagman’s anamnesis went spotty.

At one point, one aegis advocate a Gassnola he had said “I don’t remember” or “I don’t recall” added than 20 times and reminded him he was beneath oath.

“I accept been truthful,” Gassnola replied. “I aloof don’t bethink what you’re allurement me.”

Checkered past

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Shortly afterwards Gassnola took the angle Oct. 10, an abettor U.S. advocate asked him about the affidavit a board ability agnosticism his credibility, a accepted tactic to abbreviate the appulse aback aegis attorneys accession the aforementioned advice during cross-examinations.

Gassnola had a burglary confidence in his 20s for autograph bad checks. There was an advance charge, afterwards dropped, in which a man claimed Gassnola had acicular a gun at him and boasted of accompany in the bounded mob. There were additionally “five or six” civilian judgments, Gassnola admitted, including one for ambiguous buyers in a absolute acreage deal.

And again there was money he owed the IRS — at atomic $60,000, Gassnola said, a amount acceptable to acceleration — for apocryphal tax allotment that didn’t acknowledge assets from Adidas and added sources. He additionally fabricated apocryphal statements to FBI agents aftermost year afore chief to cooperate.

Gassnola was testifying for the case to try to abstain prison, he acknowledged, but he said he was cogent the truth.

“I’m a acceptable guy,” he said. “I’m actuality truthful.”

Gassnola got into adolescence basketball in the aboriginal 2000s, aback he started a adolescence biking team, the New England Playaz, which anon becoming an Adidas sponsorship.

Asked about the spelling of the team’s name, Gassnola said, “I went to aerial school. I didn’t go to college.”

While active the Playaz, Gassnola testified, he additionally becoming ancillary assets for a few years as a runner, or recruiter, for sports abettor Andy Miller. Aback a aegis advocate asked whether Gassnola knew about Miller authoritative adulterous payments to try to acreage top recruits, the adjudicator prevented an answer.

In 2012, the NCAA banned Gassnola from any captivation with “certified events” — adolescence tournaments academy coaches can appear — because of his accord with Miller. He briefly absent his Adidas sponsorship, until Jim Gatto, a acquaintance of Miller’s who formed in the company’s basketball business division, intervened.

Gatto fabricated Gassnola a consultant, he testified, a job that entails recruiting top aptitude to the shoe company’s adolescence alliance and advancement relationships with academy coaches.

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The prosecutor displayed a argument bulletin Gassnola already beatific Gatto, who is adverse wire artifice accuse over deals Gassnola declared on the stand, to accelerate recruits to Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina State and Miami.

“Appreciate u man added than you will anytime apperceive maybe I don’t say it abundant your my man Jim,” Gassnola wrote.

“Jimmy was appropriate there for me,” Gassnola explained. “He was a abundant friend.”

“Is that how you acquainted about Mr. Gatto?” the prosecutor asked as Gassnola’s above bang-up at Adidas — a 48-year-old ancestor of two with no above-mentioned bent almanac — sat anxiety away, stone-faced, staring beeline ahead.

“Still do,” Gassnola said.

‘He didn’t say no’

In February 2015, an email went out to six of Adidas’s top consultants, Gassnola included, from Chris Rivers, an Adidas controlling who aforetime oversaw the company’s adolescence basketball division. Rivers affected Gatto, his colleague.

The subject: “adidas Soul Patrol aka Atramentous Opps Update #1.”

Rivers a his consultants of a action change: He capital emailed memos, every 90 days, anniversary their travels, the academy coaches and top recruits they met with and how things went.

“Please don’t accommodate any arcane ‘Black Opp’s’ advice but accomplish abiding there is abundant detail that validates the money we spent,” wrote Rivers, who has not been answerable with a abomination and has been placed on authoritative leave by Adidas, according to two bodies in the company’s adolescence basketball division.

A few weeks later, Gassnola filed a announcement that abundant affairs with coaches at eight schools — Kansas, Indiana, Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky, N.C. State, Miami and Michigan — as able-bodied as several affairs with top aerial academy and academy players. At some of these meetings, Gassnola accustomed on the stand, he abiding what Rivers had referred to as atramentous ops.

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“Black ops meant payments to families of players,” Gassnola explained. Rivers “didn’t appetite it in an email area there was any affidavit of it.”

The money for these operations flowed through the coffer anniversary for the New England Playaz, Gassnola testified, through the apart banking adjustment he had with Adidas.

While Adidas had an anniversary advocacy arrangement with the Playaz — $75,000 in Adidas articles and $70,000 for biking costs — there was no arrangement for Gassnola’s job as consultant.

Gassnola becoming about $75,000 a year as a consultant, he said, and expensed addition $100,000 to $150,000 annually to Adidas for travel, again blank Gatto’s requests that he stop aerial first-class, blockage in big-ticket auberge suites and renting high-end sports cars.

The shoe company’s money flowed into Gassnola’s coffer anniversary in ample chunks, his coffer annal showed — a $90,000 wire drop here, a $55,000 analysis there — and he usually fabricated ample banknote withdrawals.

In the abatement of 2015, Gassnola testified, he accustomed a apropos buzz alarm from Orlando Early, an abettor drillmaster at N.C. State. Star recruit Dennis Smith Jr. was allegedly reconsidering his accommodation to accomplish to the Adidas-sponsored team.

“I offered to accompany him $40,000 to calm the situation,” Gassnola testified. Asked what the drillmaster said in reply, Gassnola answered, “I don’t anamnesis his exact words, but he didn’t say no.”

Gassnola said he appointed a capital flight to Raleigh, N.C., and hand-delivered a billowing envelope to Aboriginal at his home. Aboriginal told Gassnola he would accord the money to a trainer who would accord it to Smith’s family, Gassnola testified. It was cryptic whether Gassnola ensured the money absolutely fabricated it to the family.

When he got aback to Massachusetts, he filed an balance and alleged his boss, Gatto.

“I aloof told Jimmy that there was a bearings involving Dennis Smith that I had bare to booty affliction of,” Gassnola testified.

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In 2016, Gassnola said, he abstruse that Kansas recruit Billy Preston’s mother, Nicole Player, was demography money from added “entities” absorbed in her son’s talents. Concerned that these added people, whom he didn’t identify, would be “sloppy” and get Preston’s mother caught, Gassnola fabricated her an offer: Stop demography money from anybody else, and Adidas would pay her what she needed.

Over the aing year, Gassnola testified, he paid Preston’s mother $89,000, in installments. In November 2016, Gassnola took out $50,000, gave $30,000 to Player and acclimated some of the actual $20,000 to buy Super Bowl tickets for himself and some colleagues at Adidas, he said. Two months later, he took out addition $27,500 and gave $20,000 to Player.

A prosecutor asked Gassnola what he did with the actual $7,500.

“I kept it in my abridged and went shopping,” Gassnola testified.

After anniversary payment, Gassnola said, he would balance Adidas and alarm Gatto, to let him apperceive he bare addition reimbursement, application the aforementioned evocative message: “Billy Preston’s ancestors is in a acceptable place.”

‘Light work’

Last December, Gassnola and his advocate met with an FBI abettor to alpha discussing a appeal deal. Aback asked about the $100,000 affiance Adidas had fabricated to get a recruit to appear Louisville, Gassnola told the abettor he believed Drillmaster Rick Pitino knew about the deal, according to an FBI agent’s notes. Pitino has adamantly denied this.

On the stand, Gassnola said he didn’t anamnesis what he told the abettor about Pitino. This is a acute point. Aegis attorneys accept argued that if top arch coaches — arguably the best able bodies on academy campuses — accustomed of the adulterous recruiting advice Adidas was providing, their audience can’t be accusable of ambidexterity the universities.

Gatto’s aegis attorney, Michael Schachter, again apprehend from the FBI agent’s notes, to see whether it active Gassnola’s anamnesis about what he had said aftermost year about Pitino.

“I don’t bethink adage that,” Gassnola testified.

Schachter again highlighted, in Gassnola’s coffer records, ample deposits from Martin Fox, a business administrator who formed with able athletes.

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In September 2015, Fox active Gassnola $40,000. A few canicule afterwards Gassnola fabricated a $40,000 banknote abandonment and appointed a flight to Raleigh. The questions appropriate that Gassnola had been advantageous the Smith ancestors on account of added absorbed parties than aloof Adidas.

“I don’t anamnesis that,” Gassnola said of his cruise to Raleigh or what he did with the $40,000.

Similar anamnesis gaps arose aback the chat angry to Gassnola’s recruiting efforts on account of Kansas. Gassnola accepted to accordant to pay the accustomed guardian of recruit Silvio De Sousa $20,000 to ensure the advanced from Angola abounding Kansas. Gassnola denied allegorical Kansas Drillmaster Bill Self about the money, though. Gassnola said he told Self alone that he would advice De Sousa’s accustomed guardian, additionally an Angola native, get Adidas accessory for the Angolan civic team.

On Aug. 9, 2017, with De Sousa still uncommitted, Gassnola texted Self to let him apperceive he had announced with De Sousa’s guardian.

“We good?” Self texted.

“Always . . . ablaze work,” Gassnola replied.

The aforementioned day, Gassnola and Self had a five-minute buzz conversation. Aback asked about the buzz call, Gassnola said he didn’t bethink what they discussed that day.

Later, addition aegis advocate asked Gassnola a catechism about the “basketball underground” he had described.

“When you say the apple you alive in,” the advocate began afore Gassnola disconnected and adapted him.

“Lived in,” he said.

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Not continued after, the adjudicator absolved Gassnola for the aftermost time, and he stepped bottomward from the stand. Gassnola again did article he additionally had done the antecedent two days: As he absolved against the attorneys exit, he decrepit a alternation of expletives, to himself, and the aperture bankrupt abaft him.

Hobson appear from Washington.

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