NEW YORK -- Disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy was sentenced to 15 months in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty last year to taking thousands of dollars in payoffs from a professional gambler for inside betting tips.
The sentencing of Donaghy closes a chapter in a scandal that convulsed the NBA, which has angrily denied Donaghy's claim that corruption among referees runs deeper.
Donaghy's lawyer asked the judge for probation. He 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.
Donaghy received a 15-month prison sentence for each count, but the judge ruled the sentences would be served concurrently.
Last week, two of Donaghy's former high school classmates were sentenced to more than 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.
June '07: FBI contacts NBA to discuss alleged betting probe
July '07: Resigns from NBA, investigated as part of organized-crime probe in New York
Aug. '07: Pleads guilty to two felony charges alleging he took cash payoffs from gamblers and bet on games himself
June '08: Claims highly controversial Game 6 of the Lakers-Kings 2002 playoff series was affected by actions of 2 of 3 referees who worked the game
July 29, 2008: Sentenced to 15-month prison term (had faced up to 33 months) and three-year term of supervised release
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.
"Though we believe no sentence would ever be able to repair or justify the damage caused by this criminal and scoundrel, we are glad to finally put this behind us," said Lamell McMorris, spokesperson for the National Basketball Referees Association.
Donaghy also was sentenced to a three-year term of supervised release, on the condition that he receive mental health treatment for his gambling addiction.
Donaghy's defense attorney asked that Donaghy be sent to a federal prison camp in Florida, near his family.
"We anticipate that the judge's sentencing decision, together with the changes we have made to our referee operations staff, will enable us to continue with the improvements we are making to our anti-gambling rules, policies and procedures," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "There is little comfort to be gained from the mandatory prison sentence, especially as it affects Mr. Donaghy's children and their mother, but hopefully the healing process can begin in earnest for all."