<
>

Refs' representative in NBA probe assisted during investigation

8/31/2007 - NBA

PHILADELPHIA -- A former federal prosecutor tapped to
represent NBA referees in the league's review of its officiating
counseled five referees interviewed by the FBI during the Tim
Donaghy probe.

The five had no inkling that Donaghy was betting on games,
lawyer Gregory T. Magarity said.

"They all knew him. They all reffed with him. But none of them
knew anything about illegal gambling," Magarity said Thursday from
his office in Philadelphia.

"He was doing this stuff from pay phones, calling bets into
somebody. Nobody saw anything; no one suspected anything like
that," Magarity said.

NBA commissioner David Stern plans a sweeping review of league
officiating in the wake of this summer's betting scandal, in which
Donaghy pleaded guilty to betting on games and providing inside
information to others. The NBA has hired former federal prosecutor
Lawrence B. Pedowitz to oversee the effort.

Magarity likely will negotiate terms of the review with Pedowitz
and represent the referees' union and any referees interviewed
during the process, he said.

He does not expect any further legal fallout, and questioned the
source of reports that Donaghy will name 20 colleagues involved in
casual -- but perhaps impermissible -- gambling activities.

"His credibility would be highly suspect at the least,"
Magarity said. "I don't know who he supposedly told that 20
referees gambled legally -- whatever that means. It could be they
bought a Powerball ticket."

He said he believes Donaghy's was an isolated case of someone
intentionally breaking the law out of greed. Nonetheless, he
understands the league's decision to conduct a review.

"This was a major scandal that rocked the NBA. It certainly
rocked the referees association," Magarity said. "They want to
take a look at everything ... to try to prevent anything like this
from ever happening again."