Basketball referee Jay Leader received a text message from someone in January 2009 asking him if he wanted to make $2,000, state police said.
Leader questioned the unidentified sender, who then stated he needed a youth league game to turn out a specific way, police said.
Authorities allege that the person behind those text messages was Michael Kman, a church league boys’ basketball coach who is now accused of trying to rig games in favor of his team, Our Lady of Lourdes in East Pennsboro Twp.
Kman, who runs his own financial consulting firm, has been suspended from coaching the team pending the outcome of the investigation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg said in a statement Thursday.
“It would be disappointing if indeed these allegations are true,” said the Rev. Michael Grab, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes. “It seems very strange someone would want to fix a [Catholic Youth Organization] basketball game.”
Grab said he did not believe Kman had a child playing on the 14-boy, high school-age team.
Police said Kman, 45, of the 1000 block of Dogwood Lane, East Pennsboro Twp., is charged with solicitation to rig a publicly exhibited contest, rigging a publicly exhibited contest and harassment, all misdemeanors.
Kman declined to comment through his wife, who ordered a reporter off of the family’s property Thursday.
Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. declined to comment, saying he needed more information. A state police spokesman did not return a message seeking details on the arrest.
The investigation dates to Jan. 25, 2009, when Leader, a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association official, received the first of many text messages from Kman, court papers stated.
On March 5, Leader received a text message that asked him to officiate a game two days later at the Cathedral Parish of Saint Patrick and included the winner that the sender wanted, according to court papers.
State police got a search warrant for the number, which was traced to a prepaid phone.
When basketball season resumed in November, Leader told police he received a text from a person identifying himself as Steve, and the sender told Leader they had spoken the previous year about basketball games, court papers stated. The sender asked Leader if he could officiate a basketball tournament Dec. 18-20 in Enola with his brother, Jon Leader, the court documents stated.
The text sender stated the Leaders could make $2,500 for the “right outcome,” in two games in the tournament, state police allege.
Police traced one of the cell phones, and it came back to Kman’s wife, Melinda, according to court papers.
From Dec. 3 to Jan. 13, both Leaders received numerous texts aiming to get them to fix basketball games for money, police said.
Troopers interviewed Michael Kman, who said he “was very frustrated with the officials and felt that his team was never getting a fair game,” according to an affidavit.
He told police he was never going to pay anyone money, he just thought he could get them to give his team a chance on the court, court documents stated.
Michael Kman allegedly admitted he used the prepaid cell phones to text the Leaders, the affidavit stated.
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