Filing: Agent felt Iowa betting probe was illegal

Motion filed to suppress all evidence in ISU case

Tooba Shakir 2 months ago 0

Attorneys for four current or former Iowa State athletes charged in the state of Iowa’s online sports wagering investigation filed a motion Tuesday to suppress all evidence in the case, citing an “illegal search and seizure” that violated the athletes’ constitutional rights.

Iowa State wrestler Paniro Johnson and former ISU football players Eyioma Uwazurike, now with the Denver Broncos, as well as Isaiah Lee and Jirehl Brock, have been charged with identity theft or tampering with records for making online wagers using DraftKings or FanDuel accounts registered to other people. Uwazurike was indefinitely suspended in July for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Lee and Brock left the team before the season. Johnson is not participating in any wrestling meets attached to Iowa State this season, only unattached tournaments where he pays his own way.

Attorneys representing the four accuse Iowa’s Division of Criminal investigations, which led the sports wagering probe last spring, of misrepresenting the nature of its investigation and violating the terms of use for a software program used to capture online wagering inside Iowa State’s athletic facilities.

Tuesday’s motion noted a Jan. 25 letter sent by the geolocation security company GeoComply to Iowa DCI, stating it would be disabling DCI’s access to Kibana, the tool used to capture wagering data, because “DCI may have exceeded the intended outlined scope of its Kibana access-and-use privileges.” The defendants claim Brian Sanger, a DCI agent who led the state’s sports wagering investigation of college athletes, did not obtain a search warrant before using Kibana.

“Without Agent Sanger’s unlawful use of the Kibana tool, the defendants would never have been targeted by law enforcement, and the subsequent subpoenas and search warrants would never have been issued,” the motion read.

According to Tuesday’s motion, DCI agents had told the players that the investigation was regulatory in nature, and not targeting anyone for potential criminal charges. Their cooperation with the investigation and disclosure of online wagers they had made “violated the constitutional rights against self-incrimination.” A motion filed last month on behalf of Johnson cited a deposition from Mark Ludwick, a DCI agent involved in the investigation and state witness, who testified that he was told by an agent leading the operation that the investigation would be “purely administrative” and would not result in criminal charges. Ludwick interviewed Lee under that premise and received confirmation from Lee that he had placed sports wagers under another person’s account.

In a Jan. 31 statement, Iowa’s Department of Public Safety, which oversees DCI, said it had access to programs like Kibana “to help identify anomalies suggesting suspicious or criminal activity that could undermine sports gambling in Iowa and ensure regulatory compliance.”

The state added that it had “conferred with legal counsel to ensure lawful access to and use of the technology,” and had two county attorney officials review evidence from the investigation before deciding to charge more than 20 Iowa State and University of Iowa athletes for illegal sports wagering.

Tuesday’s motion cites a similar wagering case in the state where a DCI agent who worked with Sanger obtained a warrant in April 2023, to use Kibana as part of an investigation into two 19-year-old men who aren’t college athletes and used one of their father’s accounts to place underage wagers. Both men were charged with underage gambling, a simple misdemeanor, rather than the more serious charges leveled against Johnson, Uwazurike, Lee and Brock.

The attorneys are requesting a hearing to suppress all evidence in the case and “grant any further relief,” including the dismissal of the case.

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