Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Banned NBA player Jontay Porter pleads guilty in gambling case

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Former Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a criminal conspiracy charge over his role in a sports gambling scandal that earned him a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Porter, 24, entered his plea to a wire fraud conspiracy charge at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court before US Magistrate Judge James Cho.

The National Basketball Association banned Porter in April, saying he violated its gambling policies by placing 13 bets on league games, including a bet that the Raptors would lose.

In court on Wednesday, Porter said he had amassed significant gambling debts. To pay them off, he said he agreed to tip off others to his plans to take himself out of games prematurely so they could profit by betting against his performance.

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“I am deeply sorry,” Porter said, adding he had attended a rehabilitation program for his gambling and was currently seeing a therapist.

Porter was released on 250,000 USD bond co-signed by his mother and wife.

He is set to be sentenced on Dec. 18, and has agreed not to appeal any sentence of 4-3/4 years in prison or less.

Prosecutors charged four other men last month with conspiring to defraud a sports betting company in connection with two Raptors games where they had been tipped that Porter would leave early.

Prosecutors said Porter played four minutes in a Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers before saying he had an eye injury, and three minutes in a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings before claiming he was ill.

The men allegedly made more than 1 million USD on the games by betting the “under,” that Porter would not hit specified statistical targets.

Porter had amassed significant gambling debts to one of the men, Ammar Awawdeh, who in early 2024 encouraged him to pay him back by taking himself out of games prematurely, according to the complaint.

Awawdeh is free on 100,000 USD bail and has not entered a plea.

According to prosecutors, Porter told the men in an April 4 group chat they “might just get hit w a rico,” an apparent reference to a song by rappers Meek Mill and Drake about anti-racketeering laws. Porter allegedly asked the men if they had deleted cell phone content.

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