Referee sentenced to 15 months


Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison today for setting off a gambling scandal that tarnished the reputation of the league and raised questions about the integrity of its officiating.

The sentencing in Brooklyn federal court culminated a case that hung over the league throughout the season and even into the NBA finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. League commissioner David Stern angrily denied Donaghy's claim that corruption among referees goes beyond him.

Donaghy's lawyer asked the judge for probation. Donaghy had faced up to 33 months in prison, but the judge gave him credit for his cooperation.

Folding his arms but showing no other emotion, the 41-year-old Donaghy apologized to the court. "I brought shame on myself and my family," he said.

Donaghy pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce for taking payoffs from a professional gambler for inside tips on games.

Last week, two of Donaghy's former high school classmates were sentenced to over a year in prison for their roles in the scheme.

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.

The league had demanded nearly $1.4 million in restitution. But the judge last week set the restitution at $217,266, to be paid jointly by the three defendants.

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