Basketball

Disgraced NBA ref gets 15 months in betting scam

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced Tuesday in a New York court to 15 months in prison for his role in the betting scandal that has rocked the league.

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced Tuesday in a New York court to 15 months in prison for his role in the betting scandal that has rocked the league.

Donaghy, 41, pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.

Donaghy admitted to providing inside information on games to bettors. He could have received up to 33 months in prison, but his co-operation with authorities was a factor in his sentence, handed down by U.S. federal Judge Carol Bagley Amon in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The NBA, the players and the fans relied on him to perform his job in an honest manner," Amon said in handing down the sentence, which also includes three years of supervised release.

Donaghy made a brief apology to the court.

"I brought shame on myself and my family," he said.

James Battista received 15 months in prison and Thomas Martino one year when they were sentenced last week for their part in the betting ring.

Donaghy was an official for nearly 800 regular-season and playoff games over 13 years before an FBI investigation last year brought the gambling revelations to light.

An evaluation filed with the court on Monday said Donaghy's gambling problem began in 1994 when he began to make large wagers on golf games.

"His gambling history demonstrates the need to gamble to fulfil the underlying need for 'action,'" said counsellor Stephen Block, who wrote the evaulation and met with Donaghy in January. "He continued to gamble despite the consequences and the fear of disclosure of his activities."

NBA commissioner David Stern has insisted through the saga that Donaghy was a rogue ref with a gambling problem, and that the league had no widespread problem with misconduct among its officials.

Donaghy has alleged other NBA officials routinely made decisions to help manipulate results, with the league encouraging referees not to call fouls on star players.

The league has been undergoing an internal review of the matter and is expected to issue a report on its findings in the near future,

The NBA had asked for restitution for investigating the matter. The league had asked for a total of $1.4 million US to be paid by the three defendants, with the judge last week reaching a figure just over $217,000.

Donaghy's wife of 12 years filed for divorce last September. The couple have four children.

With files from the Associated Press