By some accounts, sports agent Steve Endicott had come to one of the fanciest hotels in Tallahassee to brag about his famous clients and their million-dollar contracts.
At least seven football players from Florida State University gathered in a room at the Radisson near the state Capitol as Endicott passed out pamphlets touting his business.
After a national scandal involving FSU, Endicott has denied that he was trying to woo players at the Radisson. Instead, he says he was invited to the meeting and the players just happened to be there.
Whatever his intentions, prosecutors allege, the meeting violated state law. On Wednesday, Endicott pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony of not being a registered sports agent in Florida.
Endicott, 44, was sentenced to a year's probation and ordered to pay $3,000 in courts costs and investigative fees. He also agreed to testify against others still not charged in the FSU scandal, said his lawyer Robert A. Harper of Tallahassee.
"It wasn't specified who the cases would involve," Harper said, "but it was specified in the plea agreement that he would cooperate with the state attorney."
So far, the Dallas-based sports agent has the highest profile of anybody charged in the scandal suggesting that FSU players were given money and merchandise. His clients include NBA star Larry Johnson and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin.
One allegation says players were treated to a $6,000 shopping spree at a Foot Locker store in Tallahassee.
Investigators say they have found no evidence that Endicott encouraged the shopping spree or provided any money for the players, but they say that Endicott did attend a meeting at the Radisson in late 1993 or early 1994.
"Endicott promoted himself as an agent by displaying and discussing information about him having signed Larry Johnson and other professional players," said FSU police Lt. Jack Handley. "Endicott discussed what services he could provide and handed out pamphlets that promoted him as an agent."
He said investigators also learned that Endicott met in Dallas with Las Vegas businessman Raul Bey and Nate Cebrun to discuss fees they might receive if any players signed with Endicott's firm.
Bey has not been charged in the scandal. Cebrun and two others have been sentenced to jail, probation or both on charges of not being registered sports agents in Florida.
On Wednesday, Endicott faced a similar charge. He was allowed to turn himself in and was booked into the Leon County Jail. His defense attorney and prosecutors had arranged for him to appear before Chief Circuit Judge Phil Padavano.
In the surprise hearing, Endicott reportedly tried to explain how he went to the Radisson and wound up meeting the FSU players. He was there, his lawyer said, because Bey and Cebrun invited him.
"Steve Endicott came to town basically as an exploratory-type meeting to see whether these guys were somebody he would want to do business with," Harper said. "To a certain extent, Steve Endicott was victimized by these other people.
"They were using him, being he's a pretty prominent figure. They wanted to show these athletes: Look who we do business with. . . . To that extent, Steve Endicott was actually being taken advantage of and didn't know until he got here what was happening."