By CURT ANDERSON
AP Legal Affairs Writer
MIAMI (AP) — The key figure in the NCAA investigation into the University of Miami athletics program claims he committed perjury when testifying in an unrelated fraud case, according to court papers filed Tuesday.
The attorney for a Juan Rene Caro, now serving 18 years in prison for check-cashing fraud, said in the documents that Nevin Shapiro told a federal judge in a letter that he gave false testimony during the trial. Caro's lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, is seeking a hearing that could lead to a new trial.
Shapiro himself is serving a 20-year sentence for operating a $930 million Ponzi scheme fraud scam. He is best known as a former Miami Hurricanes booster whose claims of dispensing impermissible benefits to athletes are key to the NCAA's ongoing probe of the school. Shapiro's truthfulness in that investigation also has come under scrutiny.
In his letter to U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard — first reported by The Miami Herald and included in the court filing — Shapiro said a "terrible injustice" was committed in Caro's case in part because of advice he followed from his former lawyers, Guy Lewis and Michael Tein. Lewis is a former Miami U.S. attorney and Tein a former federal prosecutor.
Shapiro claims they knew he would commit perjury when he took the stand in Caro's case, known as "La Bamba" for the name of the check-cashing business.
"Unfortunately, I am not a lawyer, and I trusted the advice of my former attorneys," Shapiro told the judge. "I had no idea they were guiding me in the wrong direction, and essentially gave me legal advice that was inconsistent with the law."
Tein, speaking for himself and Lewis, denied the allegations.
"The federal court rejected this precise issue a year ago, after extensive briefing," Tein said in an email. "These recycled, jailhouse allegations are still false."
Shapiro said he was also filing a complaint against the two attorneys with The Florida Bar, which declined comment.
The attorney for Caro, Hernandez, said in his new trial motion that Miami prosecutors also should be required to detail how much they knew about the separate investigation into Shapiro when he testified. Shapiro's criminal case was being run out of New Jersey but was not mentioned when he testified in the Caro case.
The new revelations, Hernandez said, "call into serious question the veracity of Shapiro's testimony as a whole … a miscarriage of justice has occurred and (Caro and his co-defendants) did not receive a fair trial." Hernandez has previously tried and failed to get a new trial for Caro based on allegations of perjury by Shapiro.
Lenard did not immediately rule on the motion for a hearing.