- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Former referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to two felony charges today in an NBA betting scandal that rocked the league and raised questions about the integrity of games.

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.

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.

The picks included information about games Donaghy officiated, the government said.

The information was not public, the judge said. Donaghy had “unique access,” including what crews would officiate at games, the interaction of different officials and players, and the physical condition of certain players.

He concealed the scheme from the NBA and other referees to avoid detection, the judge said.

Donaghy also must pay a $500,000 fine and at least $30,000 in restitution.

Donaghy, who stood ramrod-straight, hands clasped in front of him, spoke in nearly inaudible tones as he told the judge that he is seeing a psychiatrist for his gambling addiction and is taking an antidepressant and anxiety medication.

Prosecutors said in open court that Donaghy bet on games himself, but that was not a specific part of the verbal admission he made before the judge.

Tim is relieved this part of the proceeding is over, and we look forward to completely resolving this matter in the coming months,” defense attorney John Lauro told Associated Press after the plea. “Tim deeply regrets his involvement in this matter and especially the pain it has caused his family, friends and co-workers.”

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