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Donaghy to plead guilty on charges he bet on games

8/15/2007 - NBA

NEW YORK -- Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy planned to plead
guilty in federal court on Wednesday to charges alleging he bet on
games he officiated, a person familiar with the betting scandal
probe said.

Donaghy was to surrender at Brooklyn federal court, the person
said on condition of anonymity because charges had not been made
public yet.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the AP that the league was informed
Tuesday that Donaghy would plead Wednesday but was given no further
information.

Donaghy's attorney, John Lauro, and federal prosecutors declined
to comment. NBA commissioner David Stern said last month the
referee's lawyer told the league his client was contemplating a
plea.

Besides allegedly placing his own wagers, investigators also
examined whether Donaghy provided inside information to others,
including referees' schedules. The referee had a gambling problem
and was approached by low-level mob associates through an
acquaintance.

The FBI first contacted the NBA on June 20 to talk about a
referee alleged to be gambling on games, and the two sides met on
June 21, NBA commissioner David Stern said last month. Donaghy
resigned July 9 after 13 years as a referee, though Stern said he
would have fired him sooner but was told it might affect the
investigation.

Stern blamed a "rogue, isolated criminal" for the betting
scandal that has devastated the league and threatened the
credibility of every referee.

Donaghy was rated in the top tier of officials, Stern said, and
there was nothing suspicious about the frequency of his foul calls.
He was assigned to work in the second round of the playoffs, with
his last NBA game coming during the Phoenix-San Antonio Western
Conference semifinal.

No other NBA officials or players were expected to be involved
in the scandal, which Stern called the "most serious situation and
worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the
NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA."

Others outside the NBA are expected to be charged.