State athletes plead guilty to lesser charges
By ERIC OLSON
The Associated Press
Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers is among three athletes from his school and two from Iowa who have pleaded guilty to underage gambling.
The five were among more than a dozen athletes from the two schools who faced criminal charges in connection to a state investigation into illegal sports wagering. All originally were charged with tampering with records, an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.
The reduced charge carries a $650 fine, and the plea agreement reached Tuesday closes legal proceedings against the five.
Also taking the plea were former Cyclones offensive lineman Dodge Sauser, current Iowa State offensive lineman Jacob Remsburg, former Iowa kicker Aaron Blom and former Iowa baseball player Gehrig Christensen.
“The original records tampering charge against these young men never fit this case, either legally or factually,” attorney Mark Weinhardt, who represented the Iowa State athletes, said in a statement. “Hunter, Jake and Dodge are not and never were guilty of that charge. The charge has nothing to do with gambling. Other than the fact that Hunter, Jake and Dodge placed some bets before they turned 21, nothing about those bets is a crime under Iowa law.”
The athletes admitted to placing wagers on mobile sports wagering accounts that were registered under the names of other people. Dekkers, Sauser and Blom are alleged to have placed bets on their own teams’ games, though none saw action in any of them.
Dekkers and Remsburg remain on the Iowa State roster. The school has not announced whether the NCAA has taken disciplinary action against Dekkers or Remsburg. Neither played in last week’s opener against Northern Iowa.
Johnson County public defender Franz Becker, who represented Blom, said his client and the other athletes were wrong to make wagers in violation of NCAA rules. But the NCAA penalties the athletes face are punitive enough, he said, without the prosectors charging them with tampering with records.
“Every other word out of Terry Bradshaw’s mouth on Sunday mornings is an ad for sports gambling,” Becker said. “The state pretends to be shocked when they find out young men who spend all their time watching sports are betting on these games.
“The idea the state came out and charged these young men with very serious white collar crimes is simply ridiculous. The state had no business dragging these kids’ names through the mud.”
Christensen’s attorney, Jonathan Causey, declined comment on the plea deal. Messages seeking comment were left with the Story County and Johnson County attorneys’ offices.
Iowa faces Iowa State this Saturday in Ames, with a kickoff set for 2:30 p.m.