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Former Kentucky Basketball staffer indicted for defrauding athletes

Leon Smith could face 30 years in prison for his crimes.

NBA: Summer League-Final-Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Former Kentucky basketball staffer and NCAA employee, Leon Smith, has been indicted on felony charges for defrauding athletes nearly $1.3 million, as well as aggravated identity theft and money laundering, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports.

The victims aren’t completely known; they’ve been referred to by only initials in the indictment, but three of the four athletes are Shelvin Mack, Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson, according to Forde.

Smith’s arraignment date is May 15, according to court records. If he’s found guilty on all 14 of his charges, he could face 30 years in prison and be forced to give up $1.298 million.

Forde also told how Smith got access to all the money he stole from his “clients.”

The indictment says Smith was authorized to “conduct financial transactions on (clients’) behalf and therefore entrusted Smith with his or her financial account data, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other personal and financial data.” Smith, the indictment alleges, then used that access to siphon athletes’ money into his own business accounts.

Smith was a football player at UK, graduating in 1995. After graduating, he worked in the athletic department for quite some time. He was a special assistant to Tubby Smith, he was the director of basketball operations, and he was the assistant athletic director under Mitch Barnhart. In addition to his time with Kentucky, he worked for the NCAA as an assistant director of championships, as well as with Team USA Basketball.

All of Smith’s known victims have Lexington connections. Mack is from Lexington, and went on to play college basketball at Butler before going to the NBA. He currently plays for the Utah Jazz. As for Harrellson and Miller, they of course played for John Calipari (whom Smith never worked for) at Kentucky.