NEW YORK — Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy says he refused to make calls to affect games even if it meant he lost money and it angered the mob.
In one game where he bet on San Antonio, he ejected coach Gregg Popovich midway through the first quarter and the Spurs eventually lost the game. That drew the ire of the mob, which reportedly lost money using his tip.
“I just told them that I wasn’t making calls in games to influence the outcome,” Donaghy said in an interview on 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night on CBS.
“And I’m not going to be able to obviously predict the winner every night, and they have to accept that’s what’s going to happen.”
Donaghy insisted he made wagers on NBA games based on his knowledge of other officials’ biases for and against certain players and teams, and that his officiating was not compromised — a claim that was backed up by the FBI.
“Watching the tapes, we could see there was never anything outlandish where he called a foul or he omitted a foul because he wanted to see a certain team win” retired FBI special agent Philip Scala told the news show. “We never saw that.”
Donaghy made his wagers through a high school friend and used a code to indicate his picks.
“If I wanted them to bet the home team, I would discuss his brother Chuck,” he said. “If I wanted him to bet the visiting team, I would mention his brother Johnny.”
He claims he was winning 75 per cent of the time, which drew the attention of the mob, which he said threatened his family to ensure he provided his insider picks to inform betting on games.
“They basically told me that I needed to give them the picks and if I didn’t, that it’s a possibility that somebody would go down and visit my wife and kids in Florida,” he said.
His connection with the mob caught the attention of the FBI, which overheard something on a wiretap that led them to believe an NBA referee may be involved.
After he was caught, Donaghy said he co-operated with investigators because he believed it was in his and his family’s best interests. Donaghy said he then received death threats to his home phone and is still worried about retribution from the mob.
Following the airing of the interview, NBA commissioner David Stern released a statement saying any allegations about officials will be referred to Lawrence Pedowitz, a former investigator in the U.S. attorney’s office.
“Mr. Pedowitz’s review revealed that the NBA’s core values of neutrality and accountability were not compromised by anyone other than Mr. Donaghy,” Stern said.