Iowa College Athletes Sue State, Claim Unlawful Investigation Ruined Careers

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In a surprising twist of fate, 26 college athletes from Iowa are filing a lawsuit, alleging illicit investigation by state grandees. Their lawsuit lodged on a languid Friday in Des Moines federal court insinuates a grave violation of their rights and profound damage to their reputations. Their contention lies in the warrantless perusal enforced by Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), whose flippant activities have purportedly driven their collegiate careers and future prospects into imminent jeopardy.

On the list of these aggrieved athletes is Eyioma Uwazurike, a former Iowa State football star and Denver Broncos draftee. Uwazurike’s promising career took a surprise turn following charges of gambling infractions and felony identity scam as he was betting on football games using his girlfriend’s account. His suspension from the NFL was the ultimate blow, despite all charges against him being dismissed by a state court judge on March 1, 2024.

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The real bone of contention lies in the alledged misuse of the geolocation tech provider GeoComply’s software, Kibana, by DCI officials. This program, designed to ensure online gambling operators only cater to users within their licensed state borders, was wielded by law enforcement agencies for identifying areas of concentrated betting.

GeoComply’s Kibana was initially employed by the DCI for an investigation into fraudulent activities. However, the lawsuit contends that DCI Special Agent Brian Sanger overstepped his bounds by utilizing the software to scrutinize students’ gambling habits on college campuses without appropriate warrants or evidence of underage gambling, a revelation made in his own deposition at the criminal trial.

The wrongful use of Kibana by the DCI resulted in GeoComply expelling them from the platform entirely. In addition, the DCI stands accused of violating the Fifth Amendment rights of some defendants by infringing on their protections against self-incrimination.

Several athletes, feeling defeated, admitted their guilt, paid up their fines, and faced the indiscriminate impact on their careers. Yet, Uwazurike, along with fellow Cyclones football players Isaiah Lee and Jirehl Brock, and wrestler Paniro Johnson, refusec to back down, challenging the charges leveled against them and emerging victorious.

Their lawsuit implicates the State of Iowa, DCI director Paul Feddersen, DCI assistant director David Jobes, DCI sports wagering special agent Troy Nelson, and special agent Brian Sanger, among others. The litigation seeks indiscriminate monetary damages from the state in a bid to seek justice for the rights violated and restore their futures. As their attorneys poignantly noted, “Many of them have had their athletic careers ended due to the State of Iowa’s unconstitutional use of GeoComply’s Kibana software. It is our hope that through the civil action we can help these young men put their lives back on track and gain a measure of justice for the violation of their rights.”