IOWA — A veteran agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says that the agency conducted illegal searches while investigating gambling by student-athletes at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and he asked to be removed from the investigation after his superior misrepresented the purpose of the investigation, according to a new court filing on Tuesday in Story County.

Fifteen student athletes at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University were charged in the summer of 2023 with a series of minor offenses after an investigation by the DCI into underage gambling by student-athletes. Nine student-athletes were charged with Underage Gambling and pled guilty. Six others were charged with Identity Theft and Tampering With Court Records for allegedly using accounts registered to someone else to place bets.

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The DCI has since admitted this is not a criminal action and is similar to sharing a Netflix account. Despite authorities backtracking on the charges, several athletes and their attorneys have now turned the investigation back on the DCI and are questioning the impetus for the investigation.

In a court filing on Monday, an attorney for former Cyclone Eyioma Uwazurike accused DCI Agent Brian Sanger of placing a “warrantless GeoFence” on a University of Iowa dorm – potentially a violation of the students’ Constitutional rights. On Tuesday, the accusations of wrong-doing were escalated again in a filing from an attorney for another former Cyclone.

In the motion filed in Story County, details of an interview with DCI Special Agent Mark Ludwick are laid out by an attorney for former Iowa State University wrestler Paniro Johnson. Ludwick says that he was told by a supervisor – Special Agent in Charge Troy Nelson – to interview Johnson about online gambling and that the target of the investigation was gaming operators including FanDuel, DraftKings and others and not the athletes themselves.

However, after the interview Ludwick says he was “congratulated … for obtaining a confession”, according to the court document. Ludwick says he asked to be reassigned from the investigation after the apparent deception by his supervisor, Agent Nelson.

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Ludwick goes on to say that the “DCI conducted an illegal search of (Paniro) Johnson’s and dozens of others’ personal online account information” because there no warrant was obtained to gather GeoFence data at the start of the investigation and agents “lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to conduct such a search.”

The document concludes with the assertion by Ludwick that there are numerous other DCI agents who share his beliefs about the investigation and “refused” to take part in it.

A spokesman for the Division of Criminal Investigation says the agency does not comment on ongoing court proceedings and that it would be inappropriate to do so as agents involved in cases still must serve as witnesses.

The full list of athletes charged in the investigation from the two schools includes:

  • Eyioma Uwazurike – pleaded not guilty
  • Hunter Dekkers – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • DeShawn Hanika – pleaded not guilty
  • Isaiah Lee – pleaded not guilty
  • Jirehl Brock – pleaded not guilty
  • Dodge Sauser – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Paniro Johnson – pleaded not guilty
  • Jake Remsburg – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Jeremiah Williams – pleaded not guilty
  • Aaron Blom – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Gehrig Christensen – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Arland Bruce – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Aaron Uhlis – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Jack Johnson – pled guilty to Underage Gambling
  • Reggie Bracy – pled guilty to Underage Gambling

The attorneys for Uwazurike and Johnson are both seeking to compel the state of Iowa to release even more information about the investigation in light of their recent interviews with DCI agents.


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