Government Letter Details How Donaghy Got Inside Info

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just before an NBA game on Dec. 26, 2006, Tim Donaghy overheard an official scorekeeper say that one of the teams playing that night, the Memphis Grizzlies, was "all banged up" with injuries.

The passing remark prompted the veteran referee to pick up the phone and secretly call a co-conspirator in a gambling scheme to recommend betting on the opponent, the Washington Wizards. The Wizards won, 116-101.

Prosecutors detailed the inside tip in a letter unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, where the veteran referee pleaded guilty last year to felony charges alleging he took cash payoffs from gamblers and bet on games himself.

In the letter, dated May 8, prosecutors asked a judge to consider giving Donaghy a break on his sentence to reward his "substantial assistance" in an investigation that resulted in the indictment and guilty pleas of a professional gambler and a middleman, both former high school classmates of the referee.

Prosecutors say Donaghy faces up to 33 months in prison at sentencing on July 14. His attorney has asked for probation.

The letter "confirms our position that Tim has been entirely truthful and credible," the defense lawyer, John Lauro, said in a statement. The government's letter credited Donaghy, an NBA official since 1994, with voluntarily contacting prosecutors and offering to cooperate before he'd been charged in the scandal.

-- From News Services

© 2008 The Washington Post Company