Student admits to trying to bribe Fullerton player

by Staff

A college student admitted he tried to bribe a Cal State Fullerton basketball player just to see if he would actually do it.

“It was just a what-if?” Jack Oh said in an interview at the Fullerton jail. “I got my answer by being put in jail.”

Oh, 21, of La Verne, was arraigned last week in a Fullerton courtroom on a felony charge of offering or attempting to bribe a player.

Oh was caught on audiotape offering a player he identified as Corey Sanders $1,000 to help beat the 10-point spread against University of Pacific on Feb. 19.

Oh, an admitted gambler who has bet as much as $5,000 on games, said he did not follow up on the offer to Sanders and he didn’t realize he would become ensnared in a Fullerton police sting for just plotting a bribe since he never paid Sanders.

“I didn’t go through with it,” Oh said. “I thought it was just illegal if I went through with it. I found out if I just had the intent it’s illegal. I really regret everything.”

Sanders, a freshman center, wouldn’t comment.

According to police, Oh said that he didn’t follow up and pay off Sanders because he realized he wouldn’t make money after paying the player. Las Vegas oddsmakers “cap” bets at about $500-$1,000 when there’s suspicious activity on a college game, especially a

lesser-known Division I school like Fullerton. Oh told Sanders he had wanted to bet $11,000 per game.

He was recorded telling Sanders that Fullerton’s season was almost over, the team wasn’t doing that well, “so you might as well get paid to lose,” said Det. Garry Mancini, who investigated the case. Police said Oh also told Sanders he had connections with the Chinese mafia, who

could do harm to those who didn’t make good on their promises.

Oh also offered Sanders $100 for every free throw he missed and said Sanders could make $75,000 if he cooperated the rest of the season.

Oh has been involved with gambling and the police before ? he was a key informant in the 1997 bookmaking arrest of Jerry Wei Sun that is scheduled to come to trial next month. Oh approached Fullerton police after he was allegedly threatened by Sun, to whom Oh owed more

than $13,000 in gambling debts.

“When I heard the name ‘Jack’ (was involved in the CSF case) I thought ‘this can’t be Jack Oh,'” Mancini said. “He helped us on that (other) case, he knows how we work.”

Oh surrendered after police confronted him outside his business management class.

“He’s probably an immature student who didn’t know what he was doing,” Mancini said. “On a scale of one-to-10, with 10 being a hardened criminal, he’s a one. He did this on his own.”

Oh said he was a bit intimidated when he approached Sanders two weeks ago.

Sanders, at 6-11, is one of the tallest players on the team, but not a starter. He averages 2.5 points a game and 1.4 rebounds off the bench.

But Oh thought the freshman could get Ike Harmon, the second-leading scorer on the team, to help.

Sanders attended the same high school as Magic Johnson. Oh, who plays basketball, admitted he is awed by the players.

“These guys are looked up to by students as basketball stars,” Oh said. “It gives you a rush to really talk to them. This is Division-I basketball. They could be the NBA stars of tomorrow. I could say to my kids I spoke to an NBA player.”

Bill Saum, who investigates gambling for the NCAA, said Tuesday he was unfamiliar with the Fullerton case, but if the scenario presented by authorities is accurate ? that the player immediately went to university officials who in turn called police ? the school should be lauded.

“The athlete, the coach and the athletic director are to be highly commended,” Saum said. “That’s how it should be handled on every college campus instead of ignoring it and acting like it’s not going to happen.”

CSF basketball coach Bob Hawking lamented that the incident could reflect unfavorably on the school.

“We’re the victim here,” said Hawking. “But people won’t look at it that way. They’ll see the name Cal State Fullerton associated with ‘point-shaving’ and that’s all they’ll know.”