The Orange County District Attorney’s office turned over 40,000 pages of discovery Tuesday to the attorneys for those charged for their involvement in the UNC athletic scandal.
Attorneys for the five indicted in the scandal stood before visiting Alamance County Superior Court Judge Wayne Abernathy for their clients’ first appearances in superior court Tuesday.
The five people charged with multiple counts of athlete agent inducement — Willie James Barley Jr., Michael Wayne Johnson Jr., Patrick Mitchell Jones, Jennifer Wiley Thompson and Terry Watson — did not appear in court Tuesday because most are from out of state.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said this is not the only information his office has to give the teams of attorneys, and he expects further information to be released to them in the coming months.
“The things that I’ve talked to the Secretary of State’s office about to this point — I don’t expect any more charges,” Woodall said. “That doesn’t mean that they may not be involved in other investigations that I wouldn’t be involved in.”
The 40,000 pages of information were given to the attorneys on a hard drive and 23 compact discs. The attorneys will now be tasked with going through the information to find case details relevant to their clients.
Lawyers for the five charged are expected to appear in court again on April 29 for a status update on the case.
Joseph Cheshire, one of the attorneys representing Thompson, said his client should not be held at fault for violating the state’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act, which he characterized as unnecessarily complicated.
Thompson is accused of facilitating the delivery of money and gifts from a sports agency to former UNC football player Greg Little during her time as his tutor.
“I’m not sure you could educate anybody well enough for them to really understand what they were supposed to do and what they were supposed not to do,” he said.
Cheshire claimed Thompson has lost at least three jobs since the athletic scandal began — losses he blames on public scrutiny of her alleged involvement in the case.
“I will tell you that nobody in this entire situation has suffered more than Jennifer Wiley Thompson,” he said. “She has been the face of this entire investigation and she is simply a young woman who was a tutor who tried to help people and then made friends with those people and continued to try to help them.”
Cheshire said Thompson has been fired from jobs for reasons beyond her control.
“One of the places she had a great job she started to get complaints from N.C. State fans who had students in her school and got her fired,” he said.
Woodall said statutes such as the agent inducement law have rarely been prosecuted, and this case could set a precedent for future cases. He said as lawyers for the indicted sift through the information between now and the next court update, he expects the case to become more focused.
“I think it’s a bit of a moving target and it’s something that as we go, we’re going to learn things.”
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