NBA referee admits he bet on games

08/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Tim Donaghy, a former National Basketball Association referee who was under investigation for his connection to a gambling ring, turned himself in to federal authorities today and pleaded guilty to two felony counts related to gambling.

During his plea hearing, Donaghy admitted to betting on games in which he officiated. He said he would communicate his picks of the winners of NBA games to gambling associates, and was paid for the correct picks. He also said he told associates which referees were scheduled to officiate games, their relationships with certain players and teams, and the health status of players.

Donaghy did not specify which games he bet on, and did not say how much money was wagered.

The federal government had been investigating whether Donaghy bet on NBA games during the past two seasons, and if he had made calls since December that affected any game’s outcome while he was being coerced by members of organized crime.

He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Filip Bondy, a columnist with the New York Daily News, says the extent of the damage Donaghy may have done to the NBA is uncertain at this time.

Donaghy, 40, resigned on July 9 after 13 seasons as an NBA referee.

The league first learned of the investigation on June 20, and its commissioner, David Stern, has since described Donaghy as “rogue” referee and said the incident was “isolated.” Stern said he did not believe it was connected to other referees, players or league officials.

Nevertheless, Stern called the incident, “the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA.”

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