Courts & Crime

Accused Ponzi scamster alleges NCAA violations at University of Miami

MIAMI — Five months ago, the University of Miami's website called Nevin Shapiro "an ardent, devoted, intense supporter.'' A student lounge was named in his honor.

Now, facing years in prison for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme, Shapiro is writing a book about the UM football program in which he alleges former Canes players committed NCAA violations, said his attorney, Maria Elena Perez. Perez said Shapiro told the federal government about the violations, which are alleged to be major, but it did not investigate because "that's not their area.''

Shapiro, who lived in a posh Miami Beach home before his April arrest, said from a New Jersey jail that he will not detail the allegations until the book is published; he's aiming for December. He wrote a first draft and will seek a publisher. The title: The Real U: 2001 to 2010. Inside the Eye of the Hurricane.

UM's website said Shapiro, who had a suite at games, contributed $150,000 to the athletic program; prosecutors allege he used ``stolen funds'' for that. Shapiro said he donated $300,000 to UM, and that $130,000 was returned to the bankruptcy trustee.

Shapiro has said he was close with Jon Beason, Devin Hester, Antrel Rolle, Randy Phillips, Robert Marve, Kyle Wright and others when they played at UM, plus former UM assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt, now at Louisville.

"This will be a tell-all book from a fan and booster perspective,'' said Shapiro, who did not attend UM. But why write a book that will hurt UM?

"I want to make the average fan aware of what really exists under that uniform,'' he said. ``They might be great players, but they're certainly not great people. I'm speaking of no less than 100 former players.''

Shapiro, 41, is angry because "once the players became pros, they turned their back on me. It made me feel like a used friend.'' He was motivated by "heartbreak and disappointment on behalf of the university, which I considered to be an extended part of my family.''

He said the heartbreak was caused by ``former players mostly'' and ``some administrative staff and coaches. I've always had the utmost respect for Donna Shalala, Kirby Hocutt and Paul Dee.''

Shapiro will use book profits to pay back investors in the alleged Ponzi scheme but cannot keep any for himself, Perez said.

Some players call Shapiro ``Little Luke'' after Luther Campbell, who years ago gave cash to UM players for big hits.

When he specifies the allegations, the NCAA will decide whether to investigate. Asked if the NCAA investigates claims by people in jail, spokesperson Stacey Osburn said, ``When reasonably reliable information has been obtained indicating intentional violations may have occurred, the enforcement staff will undertake a review of the information in order to determine the credibility.'' Factors considered include ``how they know the reported facts and what their potential motivation may be,'' among others. UM's Hocutt declined to comment.

Perez said Shapiro will accept a plea deal on money laundering and security fraud charges and will go to prison for an undetermined time. Prosecutors said Shapiro, 41, used a Florida-based company called Capitol Investments USA Inc., to raise nearly $900 million from investors who thought they were buying into a wholesale grocery distribution business. Instead, they said Shapiro left at least 60 investors in Florida, Indiana and New Jersey with about $80 million in losses after the scheme collapsed.

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