Iowa prosecutors to drop illicit wagering charges against four athletes

Iowa State Sports Betting
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A group of athletes in Iowa are set to have criminal charges related to illicit wagering dismissed.

On Friday, prosecutors in Story County, Iowa filed motions to drop criminal charges against four current and former athletes at Iowa State University following a probe into alleged impermissible wagering by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), according to a WHO 13 report.

The inquiry stemmed from allegations of felony identity theft and prohibited wagers placed against Iowa State athletic programs. The four athletes who saw their charges dropped include sophomore wrestler Paniro Johnson and former Cyclone football players Jirehl Brock, Eyioma Uwazurike, and Isaiah Lee.

Uwazurike, who plays for the Denver Broncos, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2023 for allegedly wagering on league games the year prior, which violates NFL guidelines.

The dismissals in Iowa come after the attorney for Lee and Uwazurike filed a motion in January that accused the DCI of initiating a “warrantless search” into athletes at Iowa State and in-state rival Iowa. The attorney claimed that DCI agent Brian Sanger allegedly used a geolocation software platform without a warrant to identify users of online sportsbooks across Iowa campuses.

According to the motion filed in January, Sanger had allegedly notified the DCI about his geolocation searches and was told not to proceed. As a result, prosecutors in Story County dismissed charges against the four athletes as Sanger ‘“may” have exceeded’ the use of the software.

The motions to dismiss submitted on Friday were filed with prejudice, which could see the issues resurface. However, a court filing submitted last month by attorney Van Plumb unveiled that the DCI can no longer use the geolocation software due to revoked rights.

The software, provided by GeoComply, was allegedly misappropriated by the DCI.

Iowa center of sports betting controversy

The quartet joined a collection of student-athletes in Iowa impacted by allegations of illicit sports betting.

In 2023, nine athletes were handed $645 fines for underage wagering and breaching the NCAA’s gambling guidelines. The group included Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers, who was charged with tampering with records for bets placed on DraftKings. Iowa defensive line Noah Shannon missed the 2023 season for his involvement.