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Google Tag Manager. That's a lot to take in. Personally, I have no problem with Donaghy setting up a handicapping service. It seems like a bit of a farce, sure, but he has to make money somehow. And if sports and gambling are all that he knows, then that's that.
He might as well make the most of it. He certainly can't officiate anymore. I do, however, have a problem with him naming his site "Refpicks. It's only been up for a short while, so honestly, the site's pretty bare right now. The homepage—featuring a confused-looking Donaghy crouching in front of a sexy female ref and Refpicks-clad basketball and football players—is pretty funny, but other than that, the site's nothing special.
Just your standard handicapping site. The question that has to arise from all of this is: Why take Donaghy's betting advice in the first place? He's a solid, if unspectacular, on the year , but why trust him over all of the other more experienced handicappers out there?
I suppose the assumption might be that, as a former ref, Donaghy has some kind of insider information concerning how to pick games. And that assumption seems to be what he's banking on. Per his website, "Tim has a leg up on most handicappers, he has hands on insider experience in officiating games and knows all to well how and what can affect a score. That sounds nice, but a few years back, Abbott combed through Donaghy's book and found most of these claims to simply be untrue.
For example, Donaghy wrote that referee Dick Bavetta liked to keep games close and often blew the whistle to help a team that was down big. He said that big underdogs tended to beat the spread when Bavetta was refereeing per Abbott. Price told Arnovitz and you can find all of Price's findings here :. If you had bet on the underdog all of the games in which Bavetta was an official and in which one of the teams was favored to win by seven or more points, your bet would have paid off only This would have caused you to, on average, lose about Donaghy also claimed that referee Steve Javie disliked Allen Iverson , and that it would be smart to bet against Iverson's teams when Javie was refereeing.
Abbot debunked that as well, finding that Iverson shot just around 0. He wrote:. Win or lose, gamblers typically pay a 10 percent vig. Donaghy claimed that referee Joe Crawford favored Iverson; Abbott found that you would have lost big money betting that way. Donaghy wrote that referee Joe Forte and then-Memphis Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello were good friends and implied that the Grizzlies did better when Forte was refereeing.
Abbott and Price found that the Grizzlies played poorly when Forte was on the court. These are some of the criteria that I used. I'm not saying I bet every game.
During his sentencing, Donaghy said in court, "I brought shame on myself, my family and the profession. Source: SI. After graduating from the University of Connecticut, he's worked as a lifestyle and technology writer and editor for the past twenty years in Boston, Madrid and Zurich. Now, he's chosen the less stressful life of freelance writing at home with his dog, where he can focus on his pop culture passions like film, television, games and sports.
By Mark Lugris Jan 29, Share Share Tweet Email Comment. Jay Kornegay, executive director of the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said he had never seen any unusual activity in NBA betting, and was surprised not to have heard about an investigation until Friday. We're so regulated and policed, any kind of suspicion would be discussed.
Kornegay said legal sports betting in Nevada represents a fraction of sports betting worldwide, with Gambling long has been a problem in sports, and leagues have made a point of educating players of the potential pitfalls. The NBA, for example, discusses gambling at rookie orientation, even bringing in former mobster Michael Franceze to speak.
NBA commissioner David Stern had long objected to putting a team in Las Vegas because it permits betting on basketball, though earlier this year allowed Mayor Oscar Goodman to submit a proposal to owners on how the city would handle wagering on a team if it moved there.
Goodman argues that legalized gambling, monitored by the Nevada Gaming Commission, prevents these types of suspicious activities. In the world of biotech, data is the new oil. That means the DNA you provide for a gene-alogy test could be shared in a market worth trillions. Jon Wertheim reports. The death toll continues to rise from COVID, even with vaccine efforts underway across the country.
Scott Pelley speaks with some of the family members of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who were killed by the virus. Deep inside Malheur National Forest in Oregon is the world's largest living organism: a fungus, armillaria ostoyae, that spans thousands of acres, grows underground, and kills trees. But it also brings life — and mushrooms — to the forest floor.
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Korean American actor Steve Yeun, who played a zombie-slayer for six seasons on the mega-hit "The Walking Dead," now stars in the acclaimed film "Minari," as an immigrant dad who searches for his American Dream on a farm in Arkansas. Correspondent Tracy Smith talks with Yeun about his own immigrant experience, and how his latest movie role brought him to tears.
Although vaccines against the coronavirus have been developed in record time, the lack of a playbook on how to administer them quickly prompted a union between health workers and professional sports teams, to offer shots at stadiums and ball parks across the country. In the COVID era a nearly-empty NFL stadium can be made to sound like a packed arena, through the playback of recordings of fans made way back in pre-pandemic times.
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Her poem celebrated the three honorary Super Bowl captains, chosen for their acts of service to the community. The show will donate money to a charity of each guest host's choice. Two longtime friends keep their friendship alive with a clap, snap and high five. When Cathy Cluck realized she'd have to teach remotely amid the pandemic, she took that literally and taught from locations across the country. Latest From "60 Minutes". Feb 1. Companies and foreign countries vying for your DNA In the world of biotech, data is the new oil.
Jan China's push to control Americans' health care future U. Right Rail - Video Promo - Listing. Right Rail - Video Promo - Listing In search of a humongous fungus Deep inside Malheur National Forest in Oregon is the world's largest living organism: a fungus, armillaria ostoyae, that spans thousands of acres, grows underground, and kills trees.
For example, if two players collide during a shot in the final seconds of a game, a referee can call a foul on the defensive or offensive player, or choose not to call a foul. An unidentified law enforcement official told the Associated Press that authorities were trying to determine whether Donaghy made calls to affect the point spread in games in which he or associates had placed bets. The games under investigation were played during the and seasons.
The FBI probe also reportedly involves allegations that the referee had connections to organized-crime associates. Donaghy had a gambling problem, according to the law enforcement official, and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance. A native of Philadelphia, Donaghy played basketball at Villanova University after being an all-county player in high school.
He worked five years as a high school referee in Pennsylvania and seven years in the unheralded Continental Basketball Assn. Donaghy is a second-generation official, following in the footsteps of his father, Jerry, a college basketball official who worked numerous NCAA tournaments. Donaghy was one of three referees who worked the infamous NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers in November , in which nine players were suspended after a skirmish between the teams escalated into a brawl with fans in Auburn Hills, Mich.
In April , Lakers Coach Phil Jackson complained about two quick foul calls in an important late-season game against Sacramento in which Donaghy was one of the referees. As basketball players, all we can do is go out and play hard and leave it all on the floor. It puts thoughts in your head. But allegations of an NBA official betting on games that he works may pose a bigger problem for the league. Gaming administrators at Las Vegas casinos were also surprised by the allegations.
We usually get wind of it. Either it was a very small party, if it happens to be true, or it happened illegally. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has pushed to land a team in the league, but because Nevada is the only state where sports gambling is legal the NBA has been cautious to make that move. If someone gets injured or doesn't show up or is having a terrible night or whatever, you can't do it.
But manipulating the total you can control from the very tip. If you need an over, a referee can dictate a high- or low-scoring game just by how he's calling it. It's going to come out. BL: If he has action on the game and wants something in particular to happen, I'd say 75 percent. I've been asked for years if games could be fixed.
And I always told people not by players. An official, though, could do it. In the NFL, there's a task force that on Monday reviews every critical call that came anywhere near the point spread. I don't believe that's ever been done in the NBA. And does this surprise you? BL: The mob has had its hands in fixing and shaving games going back to the late '40s. They've always been under question for getting teams to shave points.
The fact that they finally got to an official -- well, at least an official who got caught -- isn't surprising. Listen, this is just the first guy to get caught. I think, without question, there are more officials out there who have shaved points. I guarantee you there are. This is just the first guy to get caught. And it's going to be fascinating to see how this all plays out because [if the allegations are true, it's my opinion that] he's going to cut a deal and rat on everybody.
And it was a mob bookie that supposedly turned him in. That was the worst thing they ever could have done. They turned him in, now he's going to give them all the evidence, spill everything and then go in the witness protection program. I don't get it. He was their meal ticket.
Whatever risk they had with him, turning him in was a bad move. Now he's going to be dropping dimes on them. Because really, college and pro football -- that's what people live for. Wagering on the NBA has already been dropping because of the intensity of play.
On some nights, these guys just don't seem to care. And you don't want your money on that. This will only have even a greater impact and keep people away from betting the NBA. He can be reached at wayne. Skip to navigation. Mavs stop playing anthem at Cuban's direction. Dallas Mavericks. Shaq-owned historic Krispy Kreme catches fire. Chiefs' Britt Reid put on leave amid crash probe. Kansas City Chiefs.
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It was like: Why would you do that? In any case, Ruggieri before long decided to shut the whole thing down. The final game, Martino remembers, was a loss. The effort to hide it was in vain. A grand jury in the case had been convened as early as February, according to FBI documents, and on May 30, Tommy Martino testified before it.
Hours later, he called up Donaghy to tell him. In his memoir, Donaghy writes that he was standing on the first tee at his home golf club in Sarasota with a driver in his hands when he took the call from Martino. His body turned numb. He thought he was having a heart attack. The agents informed Stern that it had come to their attention that one of their veteran refs, Tim Donaghy, had been betting on his own games and giving inside information to a gambling ring, for a fee.
The Feds made no mention of game-fixing. The commissioner promised the league's full cooperation. Today, Scala considers that meeting a mistake. I would not have gone to brief Stern," Scala told me. Through the NBA, Stern declined an interview request for this story.
In Donaghy's many conversations with the Feds through these weeks, he had begun pointing fingers and making allegations about other referees -- other refs who may have been corrupt. So the FBI had worked out a plan. Namely, they were going to wire up Donaghy so he could get other allegedly corrupted NBA referees to incriminate themselves.
Things may have been different. That's the bottom line. Scala, at the time, was livid. He even contacted Murray Weiss, the Post reporter who wrote the story, to uncover the source of the leak. But Weiss, a veteran newsman, protected his source. It came from above,' " Scala recalls. Scala won't say whether he believes the NBA leaked the story. But Warren Flagg, a private investigator and former FBI agent who worked with Donaghy's attorney during the case, will.
To shut it down. Weiss disputes that; he told me his tipster wasn't affiliated with the NBA "as far as I know. I was told, 'They're the kind of people who will do anything they can to protect themselves and the game. Among them: Who made the real money? Who besides Donaghy, Battista and Martino was in on it? There have been hints and suggestions. There's also Scala, who told me he heard from his informants that underground gamblers "could have been making over a hundred million dollars" on Donaghy's games.
Perhaps this is why the men who formed Battista's loose, disorderly investor group, the men who were "on the ticket," have, for all these years, remained in the shadows. They were the gamblers and bookmakers closest to Battista.
They were among his biggest brokerage clients and most trusted outs. Whether or not Battista made them explicitly aware of his agreement with Donaghy, their money was used to make one very specific genre of bet: games refereed by Tim Donaghy. They were the real moneymakers of the Donaghy scheme. One of them was a man nicknamed Tiger. By most accounts, Tony "Tiger" Rufo is no longer a gambler. Over the course of the past decade, he's built a company that has become one of the biggest Planet Fitness franchisees in the nation, with more than 30 locations and exclusive rights to the regions of Philadelphia and Chicago.
Rufo declined to comment for this story. One of Rufo's business partners in the gyms was his old Animals colleague Rhino Ruggieri. The management entity that controls the gyms is registered as Rhino Holdings, and according to its articles of incorporation, it was formed in Delaware County in February Another man who profited off Donaghy was a well-known New York and South Florida bookie and whale who sometimes went by the nickname Popeye on account of his oversize forearms.
He was a man who was, as they say, connected; a man from whose open hotel room window once dangled a person in debt to a Bonanno crime family member; a man whose clients included Hollywood celebrities; and a man who, back in June of , had sat with Battista in a VIP box at Citizens Bank Park for an interleague Phillies-Yankees game. These games would be mostly winners, so Popeye should feel free to move them -- and copy them too. Popeye, no dummy, asked the obvious question: Who's the handicapper behind these games?
And Battista, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not smartly, gave him the truth. Popeye's eyes grew wide. Popeye, who died of heart disease in at age 61, was born in Manhattan and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, but remained estranged from most of his family for most of the rest of his life.
Popeye's real name was Taylor Breton, and he was the great-great-grandson of Marcus Goldman, the founder, in , of Goldman Sachs. Another key figure was Joseph "Joe Vito" Mastronardo, a major black-market bookie who served as Battista's most significant out. Married to the daughter of powerful Philly mayor Frank Rizzo, who held office in the s, Mastronardo was well-connected. He had many lucrative gambling-related businesses. He served, for example, as a kind of shadow bank for the global underground gambling industry.
For that reason, he had a lot of cash on hand. The last time he was arrested, the police dug up his yard and found sections of PVC pipe buried there. To help get his clients' bets down, Battista as a bet broker needed Joe Vito. That's why, according to someone close to both men, Battista had no choice but to apprise Mastronardo of the Donaghy situation, to tell Joe Vito that this ref was picking sides in his own games-and, most likely, using his whistle to help the bet win.
Joe Vito cannot speak to that today; he was busted in at age 63 for illegal bookmaking in an unrelated federal case. In , Mastronardo had a stroke and died in prison. Another moneymaker -- according to people with knowledge of the events -- was a man named Spiros Athanas.
Born in Greece in , a Boston street bookie in the s, Athanas by the late s had moved to Jamaica, where he turned himself into a sharp bettor and bookmaker on a global scale. According to multiple sources, Battista first began moving bets for Athanas in And at some point, per a person close to the situation, Battista had to tell Athanas, a heavy NBA bettor, that Battista believed he had a profitable edge; a different person close to Athanas' syndicate a decade ago told me that Athanas bet more heavily on Donaghy's games in the season than he did on other NBA games.
In , Athanas was indicted as part of a federal sports-betting case that was unrelated to Donaghy. One morning in early July , Ronnie Nunn was asleep in a hotel room in Las Vegas when his cellphone buzzed him awake. Nunn, then the director of NBA officials, was in town for the NBA summer league games held annually among the casinos, where referee candidates from the minors are assessed for possible promotion to the Show.
Litvin's tone was urgent. Had Nunn heard anything about Donaghy's resignation? Had he heard about Donaghy's gambling "issues" -- about what he had done? Now sitting bolt upright, Nunn answered "no" to all the questions.
Litvin then filled him in on the worst of it and told him there was an ongoing investigation, instructing him to say nothing about any of it to anyone. Then he hung up. A few weeks later, four days after the Post story broke, David Stern gave his first news conference.
His messaging was clear: Donaghy was a rogue. He'd acted alone. This was an episode of gambling, yes, but almost assuredly not match-fixing. Stern's conclusion that Donaghy did not fix games would be validated by the federal investigation. Donaghy, in August , and Martino, in April , would plead guilty to two charges: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to transmit gambling information.
Battista would cut a deal, pleading guilty in April only to the charge of transmission of gambling information. Martino would receive a year and Donaghy and Battista 15 months each in federal prison. But while Donaghy would admit to betting on his own games in his plea agreement, he would not admit to fixing games.
With a team of four young lawyers, Pedowitz took a little over a year to conduct the probe and write up the findings in a page report. Pedowitz, who has retired from his firm, did not respond to requests for comment. David Anders, an attorney who helped Pedowitz run the investigation, declined to comment. His brief was to audit the entire NBA referee program for corruption, but he also had a narrower goal: figuring out whether Donaghy had indeed fixed games.
And, if he did, what was his method? To answer those questions, Pedowitz convened a group of NBA basketball operations personnel to watch games worked by Donaghy during the season -- but the ensuing report did not fully explain the limited number of games they decided to review. The FBI had discovered that Donaghy had wagered on as many as 40 of his own games with Concannon during each of the three seasons between and Based on information from Tommy Martino, among others, there were reasons to suspect Donaghy had money on the vast majority of his games during the fateful season, from the very beginning until as late as April 11 -- 65 games in all.
Yet the number of games reviewed by Pedowitz's group of NBA employees was only In this, Pedowitz followed the lead of federal investigators, who had analyzed video of Donaghy's games -- recruiting Nunn himself to review eight of them -- based on Donaghy's admission to the Feds that he'd wagered on just 16 of his own games in the final season of his career.
The Feds never said which 16 games they were, so Pedowitz's team had to deduce them from court documents and FBI requests for game videos, and the set of possible games it came up with was The NBA employees "examined every play and determined whether, in their view, Donaghy's calls or absence of calls were correct. Just one game of potential funny business out of 17 wasn't nearly enough to accuse the referee of anything.
And so, in the end, on the question of whether Donaghy fixed, Pedowitz upheld the findings of the U. Attorney's Office -- which never charged him with such crimes. But Scala, the FBI agent who pursued the case, has doubts.
That never really flew with us. This notion even found its way into the Pedowitz report itself. Scala recalls that he and Donaghy went around and around on the issue. All those gray-area decisions you have to make, Tim? Because you're betting on the game, your judgment is off -- and you threw the game.
Still, in Scala's telling, the FBI eventually just had to move on. Short of an outright confession, how could you prove that Donaghy had fixed the games anyway? And what more did you want? The guy's career was ruined and his life in shambles. They'd shut down a Gambino profit center. They were an organized crime squad, dealing with murder and mayhem. They had to get back to it. The Feds' job, on this one, was done. The NBA did too. It's impossible,'" Scala says.
Too many invested observers -- referee supervisors, coaches, players, owners, media, fans -- would be too quick to complain if they saw something fishy, the NBA argued. But as Scala put it, "When someone tells you something's impossible, you know they're full of s, because nothing's impossible. But that was the company line. Simply put, to show that Donaghy fixed games would suggest that it's easier for gamblers to manipulate games than any sports league would want to admit.
Conspiracy theories about corrupted refs have dogged the league for decades. For that reason, the NBA is particularly wary of any hint of the fix. Even if it made them strange bedfellows, then, Donaghy's denials of match-fixing guilt were, in the end, a gift. After Donaghy, the NBA put into place a host of new measures designed to detect any nascent game-fixing schemes.
They included a beefed-up computerized system for monitoring refs' foul calls; enhanced scrutiny of betting-line fluctuations that might reveal suspicious wagering; the hiring of staff with experience in law enforcement, security and data analysis; and even the cultivation of tipsters within the sports-gambling industry who could relay rumors of possible corruption. But at the time the scandal broke, the NBA closed ranks. Lamell McMorris served as the lead negotiator for the referees' union in its collective bargaining with the league.
It was either sink or swim together for all of us. When the FBI began interviewing Donaghy's referee colleagues, the agents, according to Scala, eventually spoke to perhaps 10 of them. According to the FBI's investigation files, obtained in an FOIA request, some referees had to be served with subpoenas before they would talk to the Feds. The notes taken by the agents during these interviews have a mantra-like similarity: "recalled feeling 'shocked' when he learned about Donaghy To this day, what amounts to something like a self-imposed gag order on the subject of Donaghy persists, even among those refs who no longer work for the league.
To discuss Donaghy with more than a dozen of them now is to sense that their silence has more to do with the fact that they hate the guy. None of them says anymore that Donaghy "was a good ref. Don't be fishing, because you ain't getting anything out of me. I refuse to talk about him. Or even put him in any kind of limelight at all. It's despicable.
Not every retired referee is reticent. There is, for one, Ed T. Rush, former NBA director of officials, a Philadelphia native and, for 32 years, a referee at the highest level, starting in When Donaghy was still slogging it in the minors in the early s, Rush had taken it upon himself to mentor his young fellow Philadelphian.
The Philly ref blood runs deep. And he could have been. After the scandal, Rush was among those NBA personnel tasked by Pedowitz with reviewing a set of Donaghy games for evidence of game-fixing. Rush recalls watching maybe 10 such games. What did he see? When I asked, I expected Rush to answer much the same as Nunn had to me: Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing to see here. Move along. Instead, he surprised me. In the early s, Rush went on to explain, the NBA undertook a wholesale revision of its refereeing guidelines, changes that would naturally lead to the entire NBA referee corps calling a greater volume of fouls, at least initially.
All this occurred while Rush was director of officials, from to Then people settle in. But Donaghy didn't settle in. Rush, as director of refs, took notice but didn't think much of it at the time. It was only later, in , after Donaghy had been exposed, that Donaghy's letter-of-the-law foul-calling acquired a darker hue. Watching games for Pedowitz, Rush noticed the same propensity to call "literally interpreted" fouls in situations where they were not warranted -- ones that ran counter to the flow of the game.
Only this time, Rush viewed these calls with suspicion. Still, as Rush explained to me over the phone, these were just "trends," not "red flags," and the NBA and the Pedowitz people were interested only in red flags. A play that had to be called one way and that [Donaghy] called the other way. That's what they were looking for. I didn't find it. In the end, Rush felt there was no need to relay his observations to the Pedowitz people. He felt the trends were embodied in the stats: The volume of Donaghy's calls was noticeable; it must be obvious to all.
And so nothing about any of this would end up in Pedowitz's final report. What does it mean to "fix" a game? And how, in turn, could you uncover evidence of it years, even a decade, later? The methods of fixing are rather straightforward. A player who's on the take can shave points, purposely missing baskets, say, in an effort to lower the score for his side. A ref, on the other hand, can effectively add points -- calling fouls that result in free throws. And if a ref were to target one particular team with fouls, he could push the score for the opposing side higher than it otherwise would be.
So where to begin? Donaghy officiated in 40 games between the marriage on Dec. We began by obtaining the trading histories for those games and through those determined which team was the more heavily bet upon. Furthermore, exceedingly large price jumps or plunges, or even the timing of certain price moves, could signal the trading strategies of a gambling syndicate.
For all their desire to ply their trade in secrecy, sophisticated gambling syndicates often leave traces. Through them, we deduced which side Donaghy had picked for Battista to bet on. Next, we pulled game videos for all 40 games and employed a researcher with an extensive background in officiating to watch them closely, logging all of Donaghy's and his fellow referees' foul calls.
Of those calls, 2. It is normal, of course, for a referee to call more fouls against one team than the other. There will almost always be an imbalance of calls. But examine that imbalance against the financial imbalances discovered in the trading histories-which side received the heavier betting -- and the important comparison isn't between Donaghy's foul calls and the team that won the game. The important comparison is to the team that received the greater amount of betting dollars. Once we completed all of that, what we uncovered was that Donaghy's foul calls favored the team that received the heavier betting 70 percent of the time.
But we also found that in 10 games during that game span, one team was defeating the other team to such a degree that the spread was rarely in doubt. A referee wishing to manipulate game scores on these occasions would likely find he lacked much ability to sway the matter -- or the need to do so, if the score was already in his favor. And so, controlling for blowouts by removing those games from the ledger, what we ultimately found was this: Donaghy favored the side that attracted more betting dollars in 23 of those 30 competitive games, or 77 percent of the time.
In four games, he called the game neutrally, The number of games in which Tim Donaghy favored the team that attracted fewer betting dollars? And they are. When presented with that data, ESPN statisticians crunched the numbers and revealed: The odds that Tim Donaghy would have randomly made calls that produced that imbalance are 6,to We also passed along our data to Keith Crank, who served for 15 years as the program director in statistics and probability at the National Science Foundation.
To control for bias, he performed what's called a hypothesis test on these numbers, which would produce a P value, or a probability, for Donaghy's calls in each game in the season. He then did the same set of calculations for the other two referees on the floor in each of Donaghy's games. Crank's method boasted a certain elegance: It would capture any bias a ref might display in as simple a way as possible.
Blowouts would be included. No line-movement data would be required. Crank then calculated the P value for just Donaghy's calls for the entirety of the season in question. It was 0. In other words, there was a Unlikely but not outrageously so. But Crank didn't stop there. There was, after all, that definitive frame within the season: the 40 games between the beginning of the marriage and the end of Battista's involvement.
And if you exclude two split-foul calls -- the same foul called by two refs simultaneously and credited to both -- the P value for Donaghy's calls in that set of games was 0. To professional statisticians, any P value of less than 5 percent constitutes a signal that is "significant. In our case, it means there's just a 4. All of our efforts were focused on understanding precisely what he did and how he did it so we would be best equipped to protect the integrity of our games going forward.
The NBA wouldn't share the specifics of those statistical analyses, but it did describe them in summary form. According to the league, the studies were based on "the entirety of the period during which Donaghy had admitted to gambling on games," including games refereed by Donaghy himself, and entailed examinations of "officiating accuracy," "lopsided [foul] calling and the magnitude of lopsidedness," the timing of his calls during games, foul-call "streaks" and call volumes, along with an analysis of "all associated betting lines and movements.
Privately, however, he has at times taken a different position. Ever since Donaghy emerged from prison in , he has lived in the same unit in a town house apartment complex in Sarasota. He has given up making betting picks for a tout service, which he did for a time after his release from prison. His income now reportedly comes from rental properties he owns. But before Donaghy even got out of prison, an imprint of Random House was reportedly set to publish his memoir.
Donaghy then found another publisher: a small, independent, newly established outfit -- so new that Personal Foul would be its inaugural volume -- based in Tampa, Florida, and operated by a political consultant and publicist named Shawna Vercher. That relationship would eventually turn acrimonious, winding up in court, with Donaghy successfully suing Vercher in and accusing her of stealing his book proceeds.
But the genesis of their falling-out occurred when Donaghy was still making the rounds to promote the book, according to documents filed in court as part of the lawsuit. The falling-out involved a polygraph test. Vercher told me that, in December , after questioning from reporters, including ones from ESPN, she had wanted Donaghy to take a polygraph that asked point-blank whether he'd fixed games. Donaghy said he couldn't do that, Vercher recalled in a deposition.
His attorneys, he told her, had advised him not to. Vercher asked him why. It took a second for me to comprehend what Martino was telling me. Martino couldn't remember, not exactly. Martino did recall Donaghy telling him that certain games would be unfixable.
In Martino's words, "Blowouts, he can't control. Because then "you gotta call a lot of fouls," Martino said. This was a few years after Donaghy's release from prison. A close observer of basketball, the gambler had become acutely curious after suffering losses on Donaghy-reffed games during that season.
The gambler described the conversation with Donaghy to me on the condition that I not use his name in the story. To the gambler's enduring surprise, Donaghy acknowledged that, yes, he deliberately called more fouls against the side he'd bet against. He told the gambler about other tactics as well. The gambler added, "He also told me they were betting millions and he was an idiot not to ask for more.
Like so many others in Donaghy's life, Kulle and the referee would eventually have a vitriolic falling-out; at one point, Donaghy won a stalking injunction against Kulle. But at the time of the visit, in late , Kulle said, the men were close. Since moving to Sarasota in , Donaghy had often volunteered for the local youth sports leagues that Kulle ran out of a community center.
Now, after Donaghy's downfall but before he headed to prison, Donaghy broke down and wept inside Kulle's office. The office's windows looked out onto a basketball court, where children on youth teams were just then practicing. Their sneakers squeaked on the hardwood. Kulle got up, crossed the room and closed the blinds.
That's when Donaghy "laid everything out" and "spilled everything," Kulle said. He knew how to control it. He knew how to get into other referees' heads too, about different players He admitted to fixing the games.
When Donaghy had finished, Kulle leaned back in his chair. He'd been raptly listening to the referee's story -- the gambling, the cash, the secrecy, the corruption, the endless search by human beings to gain an edge, the gross opportunism that seemed almost contagious, the almost shockingly easy fixing of a major American sport -- but now there was one big thing on Kulle's mind, and it wasn't the moral of the story.
Or, actually, it was the moral of this story. Kulle's eyes were practically dollar signs. He was already thinking, How can I get a piece of this action? Can I maybe even invest in this thing? In that moment -- like the many people before him who'd expanded and abetted the scheme and profited from it -- Aron Kulle sensed opportunity. Skip to navigation. NTSB: Kobe pilot broke rules by flying into clouds.
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