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Judge Orders Broome County Basketball Scammers To Pay Damages

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — The operators of AAUConnect, a fraudulent college basketball preparatory training program which operated in Broome County from 2016 to 2018, were ordered to pay over $380,000 in damages, mostly to families involved.

Last year, Broome County Supreme Court Judge Jeffery Tait ruled that Chris Bevin and Hazel Ward were liable to return funds they collected for the phony basketball program, which touted itself as a feeder program for Division I college teams.

An order by Tait last week demands Bevin and Ward return $239,000 to 27 families.

“Instead of connecting young people with real opportunities and providing them access to a premier basketball training program, AAUCONNECT and its owners cheated students out of their money and their futures,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose office sued Bevin and Ward. “While so many have now lost a shot at their hoop dreams, we’ve ended AAUCONNECT’s fraudulent practices and run out the clock on their illegal operation.”

The additional $141,000 levied on Bevin and Ward will go toward civil penalties and other costs. Any other victims of the scam may also submit a complaint with the Attorney General’s Binghamton office before Dec. 9.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.