Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ex-NBA player Jontay Porter admits to gambling scheme that earned shady bettors $1M

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The former NBA player banned for life for sports betting admitted Wednesday to tipping off gamblers to games he purposely was going to rig — and earning them $1 million — in an effort to clear his own gambling debt.

Former Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter, 24, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in the gambling scandal and will owe an estimated $456,000 in fines and restitution.

Porter admitted to placing bets and working with others “in order to get out from under gambling debt.”

Former NBA player Jontay Porter admitted to participating in a gambling scheme. Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP, File

“I know what I did was wrong and unlawful, and I’m deeply sorry,” Porter told Brooklyn federal Judge James R. Cho.

Prosecutors recommended 41 to 51 months in prison at his sentencing December 18. He was released on $250,000 bond insured by his mom and wife and he must continue with gambling counseling.

Porter surrendered to the feds Wednesday morning after a criminal case was opened against him last week, tying him to the alleged betting ring that hinged on Porter’s shady performances.

Four gamblers — Long Phi Pham, Mahmud Mollah, Timothy McCormack and Ammar Awawdeh — face charges in the case for cashing in on bets from two games Porter purposely bowed out of early, federal prosecutors have said.

Porter tipped off a group of four gamblers to games he was rigging. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

Porter, who had racked up huge gambling debts, tipped off the group at the beginning of the year and was encouraged to clear those debts by botching performances in order for his co-conspirators’ bets to hit, prosecutors said.

The quartet allegedly placed “prop bets” — or proposition bets based on a player’s performance, like betting the over and under of a certain statistical category — after finding out ahead of time through a group chat which games Porter would botch.

In the Raptors’ Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Porter allegedly told one of the defendants that he was going to take himself out early, claiming he was injured.

Porter going for a rebound during a Jan. 26 game against the Clippers where he faked an injury to leave early. NBAE via Getty Images

He played just four minutes in the game after leaving with a phony eye injury.

Porter then ran a similar stunt during the March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings, only this time he was going to claim that he was allegedly too sick and had to leave the game early.

Porter’s stats both performed under expected totals from gambling books in both games.

Porter playing in a March 20 game against the Kings where he faked an illness as part of the scheme. Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Later, on April 4, the same day that Porter was banned for life from basketball for betting on games, he texted the group chat and told them that they “might just get hit w a rico” — referring to a racketeering charge — before asking them to wipe their phones clean.

Each defendant placed “under” prop bets on Porter’s performance from those games, knowing in advance that he was going to not play the full games, according to court papers.

In total, the group made more than $1 million on their rigged bets, prosecutors have said, and each defendant faces conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges.

Long Phi Pham, who participated in the scheme with Porter and other gamblers, leaving Brooklyn Federal Court on June 6, 2024. Gabriella Bass
Defendant Mahmud Mollah leaving Brooklyn Federal Court on June 6, 2024. Gabriella Bass
Timothy McCormack leaving court with his lawyer on June 6, 2024. Gabriella Bass

Porter was banned from the NBA after a bombshell investigation found he manipulated the outcome of games to influence the outcome of a bet and also bet on NBA games.

The league determined that Porter was “disclosing information to sports bettors” and “limiting his own participating in one or more games for betting purposes” — finding that Porter placed at least 13 bets on NBA games from January through March of this year.

Porter, a journeyman between the Raptors and their G-League affiliate, averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 37 career games.

Porter was banned from the NBA in April. AP

He played college hoops at the University of Missouri, where his dad coached, and went undrafted in 2019 before signing with the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2020-21 season.

He is the brother of Denver Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr.

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