Gambler said he noticed trend in games officiated by Donaghy

Updated: August 1, 2007, 3:31 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- NBA referee Tim Donaghy, the target of an FBI investigation into betting on games, was suspected of tipping off two separate gamblers, the attorney for a third professional gambler told Philadelphia-area newspapers on Tuesday.

Peter A. Ruggieri, who has been interviewed by the FBI in the case of Donaghy, noticed that two other gamblers were winning bets on NBA games officiated by Donaghy. One is refered to as "Jack;" the other is James Battista, who, according to his attorney, expects to be indicted in connection with the case involving Donaghy, a former high school classmate.

"Ruggieri noticed that Jack kept winning bets on NBA games," Ruggieri's attorney, Christopher Warren said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. "Ruggieri looked harder and noticed that Jack bets on games officiated by Tim Donaghy."

Warren told reporters that Ruggieri and fellow gamblers found that Battista "was winning 60 to 70 percent of the bets he placed on NBA games." The bets, according to the lawyer, were on games Donaghy refereed.

"The gambling community thought Battista was getting inside info," Warren said, according to the Daily News.

Battista's lawyer, Jack McMahon, told the Daily News: "I take what [Ruggieri] says with a grain of salt. Who knows what his motives are? Self-preservation might be his motive."

Warren, who was present for the questioning of his client, said the FBI asked if Donaghy bet on NBA games.

"His answer was he didn't know," Warren said.

Donaghy resigned his position July 9. No one has been charged in the case. A federal grand jury in New York is hearing evidence in the case.