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Manager Admits to Fixing Fights

Times Staff Writers

A boxing manager has pleaded guilty to fixing fights and attempting to bribe a prosecutor and judge, authorities said Monday.

Robert Mittleman, 61, admitted arranging for boxer Thomas Williams to lose two fights, with Mittleman receiving $1,000 for each fix, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Las Vegas said in a press release. Williams lost both fights, to Brian Nielsen in Denmark in March 2000, and to Richie Melito in Las Vegas five months later.

For the record:

12:00 AM, May. 05, 2004 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday May 05, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 55 words Type of Material: Correction
Fight fixing -- A Sports article Tuesday about boxing manager Robert Mittleman’s guilty plea in a fight-fixing case contained an incorrect attribution. A paragraph identifying Frank Manzione as an undercover officer should have been attributed to sources familiar with the investigation, rather than to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Las Vegas.

Mittleman also admitted giving undercover officer Frank Manzione, who went by the name Big Frankie, a $3,000 down payment on a proposed $15,000 bribe to an assistant U.S. attorney and a district judge to drop the case against Williams, according to the press release.

Mittleman was unaware that Manzione was an undercover officer involved in an unrelated case -- an investigation of the Top Rank boxing organization -- when he approached Manzione with the bribery offer.

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FBI agents searched the Top Rank office in Las Vegas in January, and indictments in that case are expected this summer, sources familiar with the investigation said.

Mittleman did not return a call to his Florida home.

“It’s the first shoe to drop,” a law enforcement official said of the plea bargain by Mittleman.

The Nielsen fix was arranged at the request of Danish promoter Mogens Palle, according to Mittleman’s plea agreement. Williams, who lost by knockout in the third round, was paid up to $40,000 for the fix, according to the plea agreement.

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Williams’ intentional loss against Melito came at the request of promoter Robert Mitchell, according to Mittleman’s plea. Fighting on the undercard of a John Ruiz-Evander Holyfield heavyweight title bout at the Paris Hotel, Williams lost to Melito by knockout in the first round. Williams, a Washington fighter known as Top Dog, was paid up to $15,000 for the fix, according to the plea memo.

Mittleman, scheduled for sentencing July 26, will testify in the trial of Williams and Mitchell, expected to begin in August, according to the plea memo.

Mittleman could receive up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the bribery of a public official charge and up to five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the sports bribery charges.

Mittleman briefly managed Oscar De La Hoya when he turned professional after winning gold in the 1992 Olympics. In recent years, he primarily handled lesser-known fighters.

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His punishment “will probably depend on what he does from here on out,” said a law enforcement official.

Mittleman’s plea grows out of an FBI investigation that centered on efforts to build up the record of Melito, a 33-year-old heavyweight from New York. According to an affidavit in the case by FBI agent Scott A. Gillespie, six boxers and the manager of a seventh said they agreed to throw fights against Melito.

Neither Melito nor his father and manager, Richard Melito Sr., have been charged.


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