Netflix’s ‘Bad Sport: Hoop Schemes’ delves into the point-shaving scandal that led to a lot of controversy in NCAA basketball during the 1990s. The scheme involved players from Arizona State University who were later convicted for their part in it. Stevin “Hedake” Smith brought fellow player Isaac Burton into the fold while Benny Silman and Joe Gagliano were involved in the conspiracy. So, let’s find out more about them and where they might be, shall we?
Who Are Isaac Burton, Benny Silman, and Joe Gagliano?
Isaac Burton grew up in Los Angeles, California, and the talented basketball player made it to the Arizona State University’s basketball team in the 1990s. Stevin, his teammate, had initially approached him to brick a few free throws in exchange for money in a couple of games in 1994. Isaac said, “So I was just trying to make an easy buck. I didn’t really put no thought behind it — like consequences. I just thought, ‘Hey, I want the money. I want the money.’ And that’s what I’m paying for.”
Isaac took $4300 for that and then used it to buy car accessories, clothes, and jewelry. For him, it was just about having that money because he had a difficult upbringing. He mentioned, “I never really had a lot of money in my pocket at once. Coming from LA, (I was) just a child from the streets. I think the most I ever had before I went to college was maybe $100.” But in the end, Isaac was also caught just like Stevin was.
Benny Silman is a New York native who was also a student at ASU. He frequently traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, to bet on sports and eventually became a bookie himself. Since Stevin, the star player, accrued debt with the bookie, Benny suggested point-shaving to Stevin as a way of easing the debt. All Stevin had to do was win games within a certain margin. The authorities caught on to the scheme soon enough, and by 1997, years after the season in question ended, Benny was arrested along with Stevin, Isaac, and others. Benny was called the mastermind behind the notorious scandal.
Another person involved in the scandal was Joe Gagliano, a twenty-something from Chicago who was trading bonds at the time. Benny knew Joe and talked to him about a potential fix. Joe later said, “I remember distinctly (Silman) calling me back in Chicago, saying, ‘Hey Joe, I got a fix for you.'” Joe and Benny told Stevin that he had to make sure ASU won the game against Oregon State in January 1994 by no more than 6 points. With the help of others, Joe went to Las Vegas and put about $500,000, in no more than $9900 installments. By the end of the next ASU game, Joe had made over $2.5 million in profits.
Where Are Isaac Burton, Benny Silman, and Joe Gagliano Now?
Isaac pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sports bribery, and in June 1999, he was sentenced to two months in jail, six months of home detention, and three years’ probation. He played in the International Basketball League for a while and played for the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League in Australia. He finished his career there in 2002. Isaac seems to be enjoying retirement now, and not much is known about his current whereabouts.
In April 1998, Benny Silman pleaded guilty to five counts of sports bribery and received a 42-month sentence. After his release in 2002, Benny, like Stevin, has conducted seminars for college athletes to talk about how gambling could adversely affect their lives. His story was also made into a feature film. Benny now seems to live in New York and is the co-founder of a hospitality group. He is also the COO of a sporting club.
As for Joe, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sports bribery and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and three years’ probation. Joe also owned a chain of car wash businesses in Phoenix, Arizona. He mentioned that he now changed his focus to family and his faith. He said, “There’s a consequence for every choice we make, even more so with this information age today. Just try to stay true to yourself, to what’s right and wrong. If you follow that, then you can never harm yourself.” Joe seems to live in Arizona and is a father to four children.
Read More: Where is Stevin ‘Hedake’ Smith Now?