Iowa Sports Betting Investigation Takes New Turn With Added Identity Theft Charge

USA Legal Betting


  • Eyioma Uwazurike and Paniro Johnson were charged with Class D felony identity theft
  • Uwazurike allegedly bet on two Iowa State games he participated in
  • Both men face up seven years in jail for two charges if convicted on both counts

There’s been another turn in the ongoing investigation into sports betting violations in Iowa as two athletes have now been charged with felony identity theft.

The new charges that have been levied are the most serious thus far. Denver Broncos defensive end and former Iowa State Cyclones player Eyioma Uwazurike and ISU wrestler Paniro Johnson have both been hit with Class D felony identity theft.

The punishment for this charge in Iowa carries a jail sentence of up to five years and a fine between $750-7,500. That’s on top of tampering with official records charges both are facing, which could result in up to two years behind bars.

Details of the charges

16 NCAA athletes at Iowa and Iowa State are already facing a variety of charges for violating the NCAA’s gambling policy, including illegally placing bets and falsifying records to hide their involvement in sports betting.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Justice has been active in investigating the actions of different athletes and was responsible for presenting the identity theft charge. Both men have already pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the investigating team, Uwazurike and Johnson both used identities belonging to persons other than themselves to earn at least $1,500. Court records revealed that both men conspired with associates to create accounts in their names and then used those accounts to place wagers.

Uwazurike was also one of five members from the group of 16 that placed wagers on games they participated in, which is also strictly prohibited according to NCAA policy and is also illegal in many states nationwide.

Uwazurike (who played for ISU from 2016-2021) allegedly placed more than 800 bets totaling over $21,000 between February 2021 and July 2022, including bets on two ISU games. Johnson, who is only in his second year on the wrestling team, is said to have placed more than 1,300 bets in excess of $45,000.

What’s happening in the case

The investigations into both men are still open. Uwazurike has asked police to dismiss the charges against him, which he says are part of “a smear campaign to justify a suspect investigation.”

An attorney representing Uwazurike also questioned in a court filing why only Uwazurike and Johnson were charged with identity theft, while others involved in the investigation were not. The attorney also noted that only males representing a select group of sports teams were charged with crimes even though numerous others were implicated.

Uwazurike has already been suspended by the NFL. He has not been released as many other players that were charged with gambling crimes have been, but he is on the Broncos’ reserved list. Johnson will not participate in ISU wrestling meets or events until his situation is resolved.

The NCAA has dealt with a variety of issues related to gambling amid the legal sports betting boom. Aside from the increase in investigations into different infractions, it also reworked its punishment system for those convicted of infractions and saw an end to partnerships between sportsbook operators and universities, such as what existed between PointsBet and Colorado or Caesars and LSU.

Uwazurike and Johnson will appear in separate jury trials on Oct. 24 at 9:00 a.m. in Story County District Court.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.