If you want to see your tax dollars at work, you need to check out Michael McKnight's piece on SI.com about the point shaving scheme at the University of San Diego.
Now, before I go any further I must say that sports are entertainment. Yes, a sporting event is the ultimate reality show but, in the end, the game is meant to entertain. Fans have a multitude of entertainment options and sports must compete with restaurants, clubs, the movie theater or the myriad of other things you can spend your hard-earned dollars on.
To this day I don't understand why los federales are interested in alleged point shaving schemes in college sports. The only people who get hurt are the folks who end up betting on the wrong side. We're not talking about throwing games, we're talking about missing a shot here and there or turning the ball over to keep the game within the spread.
Let me repeat, the only folks getting "hurt" are bettors, bookies and the casinos.
As Mr. McKnight points out, the key figure in the alleged scheme was a bookie named Steve Goria. Mr. Goria became the apple in the eyes of los federales when he was stopped at the border with a whole lot of cash - and a map to the pot capital of Northern California. Operation Hookshot was soon born.
The star of the sting was a confidential informant who was looking at a 10-20 year stretch in federal prison for a variety of drug crimes. He was only too willing to help out.
Just to make things more interesting, the informant is represented by the same attorney, Nicholas DePento, who represented Mr. Goria when he was stopped at the border in 2008. That raises questions of whether or not Mr. DePento violated his duty to his former client when he arranged for his current client to become the government's tool.
But the question is whether or not the FBI manufactured this alleged scheme. Did their informant drive the action or was he merely the means of discovering what was going on down by the ocean? Did the FBI stumble onto the scheme when they nabbed Mr. Goria at the border or did they manufacture it?
The evidence compiled by SI.com doesn't seem to indicate that, with the possible exception of one game in 2010, that there was any unusual betting patterns on USD games while the scheme was supposedly going on. And trust me, USD is such a small school that any suspicious bets would be detected quite easily.
What was the point in the investigation? Who benefits from it? And does it make anyone feel better knowing that the key government witness is a convicted felon who is facing a decade or more in prison?
And does it make sense for the government to go around creating criminal acts when there is more than enough real crime going on? If they wanted to go after some folks, why not take a look at the shenanigans in the mortgage-lending industry that helped bring down the economy?
The importance in the story, however, is in laying bare the ways in which our government schemes to entrap people in criminal enterprises. When you lie down with the pigs, you're bound to get dirty.