Ex-Michigan Booster Scraps Deal

Thursday, May 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) — Former University of Michigan athletic booster Ed Martin has backed out of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in a gambling and income tax case.

The retired auto worker has been a key figure in a long investigation of possible NCAA rule violations by the Michigan basketball program.

Facing federal gambling and tax evasion charges, Martin agreed in March to detail his involvement with the program in exchange for a reduced sentence.

However, the 66-year-old from Detroit filed court papers Wednesday to withdraw the deal. His son Carlton also seeks to withdraw his plea deal.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland scheduled a May 15 hearing on the requests, the Detroit Free Press said Thursday.

Federal prosecutor Richard Convertino said the cancellation of the plea agreements will lead to a bigger investigation of the Martins and anyone connected to them.

``We will proceed vigorously against any and all activities of anyone involved in gambling and income tax matters and any other matters that come to light,'' he said.

Martin was charged April 8 with running an illegal gambling operation from 1988 through 1998. Published reports said Martin and his son ran a numbers operation at Ford Motor Co.'s Rouge complex.

Martin was banned from contact with the Michigan basketball program in March 1997 amid allegations that he gave cash and gifts to Wolverines players. Federal authorities have said they have found no evidence that Martin's alleged gambling operation included betting on Michigan games.

Martin and his son, who faces identical charges, each could have faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the two counts. Under terms of plea agreements signed March 9 by both men, neither was to serve more than 15 months behind bars.