New York (AP) — Disgraced ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy admitted that he’d brought shame on his profession Tuesday as a federal judge sentenced him to 15 months behind bars for a gambling scandal that still has the league on the defensive.
U.S. District Judge Carol Amon sentenced Donaghy to prison time plus three years of supervised release, saying he’d let the sport down by taking thousands of dollars from a professional gambler in exchange for inside tips on games — including ones he refereed.
„The NBA, the players and the fans relied on him to perform his job in an honest manner,“ Amon said. Donaghy listened with his arms folded but showed no emotion.
He told the judge that „I’ve brought shame on myself, my family and the profession.“
Defense attorney John Lauro asked Amon to give his 41-year-old client probation, saying the ex-official was a gambling addict who destroyed „the career he loved“ and needed treatment, not incarceration. Donaghy also had sought to make amends by revealing „the good, the bad and the ugly“ about the league’s officiating, the attorney added.
During the NBA finals, Donaghy said in a court filing that the league routinely encouraged refs to ring up bogus fouls to manipulate results, while discouraging them from calling technical fouls on star players.
In the end, Amon refused Donaghy’s plea to stay out of prison, though she imposed a penalty that was not as tough as the 33 months he could have recine is that Mr. Donaghy has been a model cooperator.“
Prosecutors have said that though he deserved credit for helping make the case against two co-defendants — both former high school classmates of Donaghy — nothing else he alleged was criminal.
At a sentencing last week, James Battista, a professional gambler and admitted drug addict, got 15 months in prison for making bets based on inside tips. Thomas Martino, the scheme’s middleman, was sentenced to a year and one day for paying the referee thousands of dollars for the tips. The three men attended school together in Springfield, Pa.
On Tuesday, the judge called Donaghy „more culpable“ than the others. „Without Mr. Donaghy, there was no scheme,“ she said.
The league had demanded nearly USD 1.4 million in restitution. But the judge last week set the restitution at USD 217,266, to be paid jointly by the three defendants.
„Tim acted in a completely selfish and unforgivable way, and has forever compromised the way people look at sports and officiating,“ said Lamell McMorris, spokesperson for the National Basketball Referees Association. „However, NBA referees will continue to officiate with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.“