No prison time for Lynn Lang|
Ex-coach won't have to forfeit bribe money
By Woody Baird
Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS — The former high school football coach who set off a recruiting scandal at Alabama and a federal criminal investigation won't have to go to prison under a sentence issued Tuesday for his role in the scheme.
Lynn Lang was sentenced to two years supervised probation and 500 hours community service and fined $2,500 on a guilty plea of conspiring to get defensive lineman Albert Means to sign with the Alabama football team in 2000. He could have received 30 to 37 months in federal prison and fines up to $60,000.
Lang, former head coach at Trezevant High in Memphis, said he took $150,000 from wealthy businessman Logan Young to make sure Means went to Alabama.
The crime to which Lang pleaded guilty, crossing state lines as part of racketeering conspiracy, does not demand forfeiture of the bribe money.
Lang was required to amend his income tax returns, however, and told the court he still owes the IRS more than $60,000 he is paying off in installments.
He testified at an earlier court appearance that the money from Young was spent. He was represented at the sentencing hearing by a public defender.
Young, a longtime Alabama booster, was convicted last week on federal charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering. He is scheduled for sentencing in May.
Lang testified against Young as a condition of the guilty plea, which led to dismissal of extortion and bribery charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Godwin said in court that Lang's cooperation was key to convicting Young.
"Without Mr. Lang, this case could not have gone forward because there was no other witness to the bribe," he testified.
Lang told U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald he regretted the pain he had caused Means, his family and those at his former school.
"I made a big mistake. ... I'm totally sorry for it," he said.
The judge denounced Lang for taking advantage of a student who considered him a father figure, saying, "It was a despicable thing you did."
But she also said she noticed a change in Lang's attitude since his first appearance in her court after his 2001 indictment.
"That air of arrogance has disappeared. I believe you are truly remorseful," Donald said.
Means' recruitment became part of an NCAA investigation that led to sanctions against Alabama in 2002. The Crimson Tide lost scholarships and was banned from bowls for two years.
Former Trezevant assistant coach Milton Kirk has also pleaded guilty to taking part in the recruiting conspiracy. Kirk blew the whistle on Lang and cooperated with investigators looking into Means' recruitment.
Authorities have said Kirk expected some of the money given to Lang but did not get any.
Kirk was sentenced to three years probation, 200 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
Means, who was not accused of wrongdoing, played one season at Alabama before transferring to Memphis, where he expects to graduate in the fall.
At Young's trial, Lang said he got small amounts of money from two colleges, Georgia and Kentucky, while shopping Means around.
He also said he got offers of cash or jobs from Arkansas, Mississippi, Michigan State and Tennessee and was promised a free law school education for his wife at Memphis.
Former coaches Rip Scherer of Memphis and Jim Donnan of Georgia testified for the defense that Lang was lying.
Lang said he was sent to Young by Ivy Williams, a former assistant coach at Alabama.
Williams and Ronnie Cottrell, another former assistant with Alabama, lost their jobs during the NCAA investigation and are suing the league for defamation.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Subscribe for only 33¢ a day!