Lawyer for Donaghy's high school classmate expecting to be indicted

Updated: July 27, 2007, 6:32 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- The former operator of a suburban sports bar expects to be indicted in connection with the NBA betting investigation involving a referee who was his high school classmate.

James Battista went to Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Pa., at the same time as former referee Tim Donaghy, said Battista's lawyer, Jack McMahon.

"They're not strangers to each other, that's for sure,'' McMahon said. "They did go to high school together but two years apart.''

McMahon said prosecutors have not told him they plan to indict Battista, "but as a practical matter I know they are, and so we're just kind of in a wait-and-see position to when it comes down and what the exact allegations are.''

Battista had only "minor'' offenses on his record, including some kind of gambling offense, McMahon said.

"I know it was some kind of minor gambling,'' McMahon said. "I know he never went to jail, it was some minor, minor offense.''

Records from Delaware County's Court of Common Pleas indicate Battista was arrested on bookmaking and conspiracy charges in 1998 and was placed in a program that allows first-time offenders to expunge their record.

Asked whether Battista has been a bookmaker, McMahon declined comment "because that's part of the nature of the charge. At some point in time we'll have a response to that.''

McMahon also said Battista had at one time been the manager or owner of Marina's sports bar in Havertown. He declined comment when asked how Battista currently earned his living, saying it might prove relevant to the case.

Battista is from suburban Phoenixville, and a call to his home Friday rang unanswered.

Donaghy, who resigned his position July 9, has been the target of an FBI investigation for allegedly betting on games, including some he officiated, over the last two seasons. Donaghy, an NBA referee for 13 years, is expected to surrender to authorities by early next week.

Battista planned to surrender voluntarily if asked to do so by authorities, McMahon said.

"He's not running, he's not hiding,'' McMahon said. "He's going to face these charges and defend himself.''

Three other current NBA officials -- Joe Crawford, Ed Malloy and Mike Callahan -- also attended Cardinal O'Hara.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press