NBA referee pleads guilty to gambling — (The Alexander City Outlook)

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The Alexander City Outlook

By Staff Reports

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2007

 NEW YORK (AP) – Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to felony charges Wednesday for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated in a scandal that rocked the league and raised questions about the integrity of the sport.

Donaghy faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced for conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting wagering information through interstate commerce. He was released on a $250,000 bond.

Speaking in code during telephone calls, Donaghy provided recommendations, called “picks,” to co-conspirators about what team they should bet on, said U.S. District Judge Carol Bagley Amon. If he was correct, they paid him $5,000.

The picks, the government said, included information about games that Donaghy officiated – information that was not public. Donaghy had “unique access,” including what crews would be officiating games, the interaction of different officials and players, and the physical condition of certain players.

Donaghy was fined $500,000 and must pay at least $30,000 in restitution to the government.

Commissioner David Stern said the NBA would “continue with our ongoing and thorough review of the league’s officiating program to ensure that the best possible policies and procedures are in place to protect the integrity of our game.” Donaghy’s lawyer, John Lauro, told The Associated Press: “Tim is relieved this part of the proceeding is over and we look forward to completely resolving this matter in the coming months.

“Tim deeply regrets his involvement in this matter and especially the pain it has caused his family, friends and co-workers.”

Donaghy stood ramrod-straight, hands clasped in front of him, and spoke in nearly inaudible tones as he addressed the judge. He said he was seeing a psychiatrist for his gambling addiction and taking antidepressant and anxiety medication. Prosecutors said Donaghy bet on games himself, but that was not a specific part of the verbal admission he made before the judge.

Two alleged co-conspirators, identified by prosecutors as James Battista, a professional gambler, and Thomas Martino, were in the custody of federal marshals and awaiting arraignment on conspiracy charges carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Donaghy will be sentenced Nov. 9, Lauro said.