Ex-NBA Ref Donaghy Gets 15 Months, 3 Years Probation

Ex-NBA ref Tim Donaghy sentenced to 15 months for illegal payoffs, gambling.

ByABC News
July 29, 2008, 9:54 AM

July 29, 2008 -- NEW YORK (Reuters) - Disgraced U.S. basketball referee Tim Donaghy, who admitted to betting on games he officiated and passing on inside information to bookies, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 months in prison.

Donaghy, 41, a National Basketball Association official for 13 seasons, pleaded guilty last August to wire fraud conspiracy to defraud the NBA and to transmitting gambling information across state lines in a scandal that sparked league reforms.

"I'm very sorry ... I brought shame on myself, my family, and to the profession that I love," Donaghy told U.S. District Judge Carol Amon at Brooklyn Federal Court.

Donaghy had admitted taking cash payoffs from gamblers in exchange for inside information, such as the physical condition of certain players and which referees would officiate games.

Amon, who also ordered Donaghy to undergo mental health counseling, said of the referee's compulsive gambling disorder that "although it contributed to his criminal conduct, it does not excuse it.

"Many people relied on him to faithfully perform that job," she told the court.

Prosecutors said Donaghy received up to $5,000 for each prediction that turned out to be correct and that he had accepted money at least three times.

Donaghy resigned from the league last summer during an FBI investigation into his gambling activities.

"We're thrilled with the outcome today in court," John Lauro, Donaghy's lawyer, told reporters outside the court, describing the sentence as "fair and reasonable and a victory for the truth."

Lauro said that Donaghy, who was ordered to turn himself in by September 23 to begin serving his sentence, will be likely be liable to pay the NBA about $200,000 in restitution.

Last week, two co-defendants, both high school friends of Donaghy, were sentenced respectively to 15 months and one year and one day in prison for their roles in the scheme.

Lauro told the court that half of all NBA referees were "engaged in gambling," saying, "There's no question in my mind that the NBA has to be looked at from top to bottom."