FBI gathers jail phone recordings, mail of former Missouri basketball player

Updated: August 19, 2003, 9:26 PM ET

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Boone County authorities have given the FBI more than two dozen hours of recorded jailhouse phone conversations of former Missouri basketball player Ricky Clemons, Sheriff Ted Boehm said Tuesday.

The FBI declined to comment about why it gathered the phone recordings and incoming mail for Clemons, who is serving a 60-day sentence after pleading guilty to false imprisonment of his former girlfriend.

The NCAA is separately investigating allegations made by the former girlfriend, Jessica Bunge, that Clemons received cash and clothing and cheated on exams while playing for Missouri.

"I can confirm that we provided the FBI with the phone recordings and the mail of Ricky Clemons," Boehm told The Associated Press.

Boehm's comments were the first law enforcement acknowledgment of the FBI's interest in Clemons, who was kicked off the basketball team and had his athletic scholarship revoked in July after a judge ordered him to jail.

Clemons, who has been incarcerated since mid-July, is scheduled to be released Sunday. He will remain on probation.

Clemons' attorney, Wally Bley, said he was unaware the FBI had any interest in his client.

"How many more twists can this sordid tale take?" Bley said. Clemons is declining all interview requests, Bley said.

FBI spokesman Jeff Lanza in Kansas City said he could not comment.

Boehm said the FBI request came last week. Maj. Warren Brewer, the county jail supervisor, said his staff put some 28 hours of Clemons' incoming and outgoing calls at the jail on compact disks for the FBI. Brewer said incoming and outgoing calls for prisoners are routinely recorded.

The AP had sought release of the recordings under a larger request for records in the Clemons case. But Brewer said the recordings, usually considered public records, could not be released "because they are part of an ongoing investigation."

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said no one on his staff had spoken with the FBI and that he was not aware of its interest in Clemons until speaking with an AP reporter. The athletic department has said it is cooperating with the NCAA investigation.

A school spokesman said Snyder would not have any comment Tuesday night.

Clemons, a junior college transfer, averaged 14.2 points last season. The guard was arrested after a January incident in which Bunge said the athlete choked her in a headlock, yanked her hair and wouldn't allow her to leave his Columbia apartment for about an hour after they argued.

The 23-year-old Clemons pleaded guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment of Bunge.

Coach Quin Snyder has denied that Clemons received money, but the coach acknowledged giving Clemons a few items of promotional clothing that he planned to discard. Missouri officials have said that would probably be considered an infraction by the NCAA.

Bunge said Snyder's clothing gifts to Clemons were more numerous, and that she filled the rear end of her sport utility vehicle one day with clothes she and Clemons picked up at Snyder's home.

Bunge, who attends school in the Chicago area, also said she saw Clemons emerge from the Hearnes Center, where Missouri plays basketball, carrying handfuls of cash. Bunge also said she saw tutors write papers for Clemons, and that he received answers to exams.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index