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Paper: FBI Questions Hoops Player

December 3, 1997

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ A former Arizona State basketball player said to be at the heart of a point-shaving investigation was questioned for two days by the FBI, according to a published report.

The Tribune, a Mesa-based newspaper that serves suburban Phoenix, reported today it was told by sources that Steven ``Hedake″ Smith said after last week’s questioning that he was sure he’d be in the clear once the investigation is finished.

Newspaper and television reports recently quoted sources as saying Smith and former teammate Isaac Burton would be indicted on gambling charges soon.

Smith, who previously has denied any wrongdoing, told friends after the FBI sessions that ``everything is fine,″ the Tribune said.

Since then, Smith has returned to France, where he’s been playing professionally, and couldn’t be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

Burton’s representative, Ed Whatley, told Sports Illustrated last week that Burton, now playing professionally in Australia, is cooperating with authorities.

Sports Illustrated and others have said that Smith, Arizona State’s second-leading scorer, and Burton accepted money to shave points in 1993-94 home games against Oregon State, Oregon and Southern California.

Sources told the Tribune that Smith denied any involvement in fixing three home games in early 1994. The Tribune didn’t specify the games.

Earlier reports cited law enforcement sources in reporting that Joseph Gagliano Jr., a former trader on the Chicago Board of Trade and investment adviser, paid the players to throw games or win by narrow margins.

Gagliano is said to have won more than $1 million betting against the Sun Devils.

Gagliano and Benny Sliman, a former concessionaire at America West Arena, were among those named on 27 subpoenas issued in July for employees of Las Vegas casinos who were directly involved in betting activities during the 1993-94 season, according to previous reports.

The FBI acknowledged in April it was investigating but has declined to elaborate.

Earlier investigations, including one by the Pac-10 Conference and one by Nevada gaming regulators, failed to pinpoint anything. When additional information surfaced this year, the case was reopened.

Then-coach Bill Frieder, who resigned Sept. 10 after eight seasons at Arizona State, said he reviewed a tape of a March 5, 1994, game against Washington in Seattle again and again without finding anything conclusive.

The game had been said earlier to be one of those in question. The Sun Devils missed their first 14 shots, but recovered to win by 18 points, beating the Huskies and the point spread.

``That was the only game that I reviewed excessively, because it was the only game we heard about at that time,″ Frieder said last week. ``But I never had a feeling that something wasn’t right.″

As for the allegations, however, he said, ``I’m angry, disappointed and hurt. This was a very painful experience that basically cost me my job.″

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