WRAL Investigates

Former NCSU booster pleads guilty to paying bribes to college athletes

Posted March 26, 2019 9:07 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2019 5:35 p.m. EDT

— A former North Carolina State University football player serving a prison sentence for his role in a Medicaid fraud scheme pleaded guilty last week to a single charge that links his inflated income from that scheme to money laundered through his sports agency and paid to college athletes, according to court documents released on Tuesday.

Eric Dewayne Leak was an owner of a mental health company, Nature's Reflections, LLC, that got millions in reimbursements from Medicaid for services that never happened. Leak pleaded guilty in March 2018 to this role in that fraud.

Last week, prosecutors outlined how Leak and others redirected money from Nature's Reflections to his sports agency, Hot Shots, and through it to college athletes, a violation of NCAA amateurism rules.

No specific athletes or universities were named in Leak's plea.

According to the new charging document against Leak:

"Leak knew the money transferred from Nature's Reflections to Hot Shots was derived at least in part from unlawful activity, and he engaged and caused others to engage in those financial transactions with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity.

"The specified unlawful activity that Leak conspired to promote involved the bribery of collegiate athletes, who were governed by rules and regulations promulgated by, among others, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the student-athletes' respective schools. These student-athletes had all received athletic scholarships and other benefits from the athletes' respective schools."

According to the court documents, Leak provided shows, clothes, cash and access to hotel rooms and cars to student-athletes and their family members, including "numerous occaisions" where Leak or others wired money or transferred cash to the student-athletes.

WRAL News began investigating Leak in 2013 about his contact with N.C. State football and basketball players even after the university ordered him to stay away. The university issued a disassociation letter in November 2011 and a trespass notice in October 2013 after some cars Leak owned had been ticketed on campus.

At that time, Leak told WRAL that Nature's Reflections helped fund his interests in sports management.

Nature's Reflections billed Medicaid for $8.7 million between 2012 and 2014, more than any other counseling agency of its kind in the state. According to a 2015 search warrant, employees claimed Leak told them to "write service notes for services not rendered."

In December, he reported to prison to begin an 18-month sentence after a guilty plea to federal bribery and money laundering charges.

His latest plea is is not the first time Leak's financial activities have been tied to college athletes.

In a 2015, federal investigators seized a high-end sports car that Leak helped purchase for former N.C. State basketball player C.J. Leslie. Agents said the down payment for the car came from Nature's Reflections.

Leak has also been accused in court documents of stealing about $500,000 from former N.C. State football star David Amerson and former Greensboro high school football star Keenan Allen. At the time of the alleged theft, Leak and Amerson had a business partnership through Hot Shots.