Did Ref "Subconsciously" Blow Calls?
Donaghy says betting interests may have swayed NBA game decisions
JUNE 3--While federal investigators found no evidence that disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy "intentionally" made bad calls in games in which he had a betting interest, the convicted felon said that "his personal interest might have subconsciously affected his on-court performance," according to federal prosecutors. Donaghy, who pleaded guilty last year to a fraud and conspiracy charge, also noted that he "compromised his objectivity" due to his financial stake in the outcome of basketball contests he officiated. Donaghy's admissions are contained in a May 8 pre-sentencing letter prepared by federal prosecutors (and which a U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn unsealed yesterday). The letter, which cites Donaghy's "substantial assistance" to investigators, reports that he bet on about 40 games annually between 2003 and 2007. Prosecutors singled out a December 2006 Washington Wizards-Memphis Grizzlies game to illustrate how Donaghy used inside information when relaying his picks to coconspirators. After initially telling a cohort that he thought Memphis would prevail, Donaghy recalled that an "official NBA scorer" entered the referees's locker room and reported that the Grizzlies were "all banged up." Armed with that injury information, Donaghy quickly called his coconspirator and "changed his pick to the Wizards." Washington, which was favored by eight points, easily won the game, 116-101. A lawyer for Donaghy, who is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14, has asked Judge Carol Amon to levy a probation term, instead of a prison stretch. (8 pages)