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From to , we didn't miss a game. Any game that he reffed we had a wager on. Battista had since decided to set up shop on his own as a bet broker. Whatever his issue was, Battista said he couldn't talk about it over the phone. A decade later, in the break room of the hair salon he worked in, Martino told me how it had gone: Martino had already known that their mutual buddy Tim Donaghy had been betting on his own NBA games with Concannon, and winning those bets.
Battista, after discovering this, had been following those bets for the better part of the past four years. But now, when Battista arrived at Martino's house, he dropped the bomb. The big problem, Battista said, was that the betting markets appeared to be getting wise to the emergence of an astonishingly accurate NBA handicapper.
Because this edge, this treasure, was in danger of evaporating, Battista had decided that he needed to assume direct control over the referee. Martino was not a gambler, had hardly ever placed a bet in his life. But he'd remained close friends after high school with both Donaghy and Battista, who, in turn, were never that close with each other. Martino, in that way, was about to become the unlikely bridge upon which the conspiracy would travel. To Martino, Battista seemed desperate, even frightened.
And it was there, in the otherwise vacant dining area, seated around a table, that Battista and Donaghy, with Martino witnessing, consummated their deal. Much later on he would come to call this meeting "the marriage. Accounts of the meeting differ. According to statements Donaghy made to federal law enforcement, Battista's deal was effectively an act of extortion. You don't want anyone "from New York" coming to your house, Battista told him. According to Battista, though, it was Donaghy who reached out, asking for a meeting.
Both Battista and Martino have said that there were no threats, that everyone was nervous but the situation seemed copacetic, and that what sold Donaghy on the deal was Battista saying to him: We know you're giving the games to Jack Concannon. And then, twisting the knife, Battista told him how much Concannon was winning. Donaghy rose from the table. He had to use the bathroom, he said, and motioned for Martino to please come along.
It got out to Battista that I'm giving games to Jack! But no. You know what he says? He goes: 'Do you believe it? Back at the table, Martino and Donaghy told Battista that they needed to drive to a nearby gas station. They came out of the station bearing a packet of rolling papers, and right there inside the car, under the fluorescent gas station lights, in the rental-return sprawl adjacent to the Philadelphia International Airport runway, Martino rolled a joint.
They passed it back and forth -- Battista, who'd snorted some coke earlier, demurred -- and as the car filled with smoke, they made, Martino told me, "a pact. Because that's how you get in trouble. The Celtics played the 76ers the night after the Marriott meeting. Donaghy worked the game. It was his first pick for Battista. The Celtics, favored by 2. We had a big bet on every fing game. Making bets at the highest levels of sports gambling is akin to the trading of any financial instrument.
There's a defined trading session. It opens in the morning and closes right before tip-off. It's possible, in effect, to buy and sell bets, to go long or go short, to hedge. The best movers spend years compiling vast networks of clients and "outs," or counterparties, with whom the movers can trade. Battista had such a network. It's possible, through Don Best Sports, a betting information service, to pull the line-movement data for individual NBA games going back years.
It's like looking at a stock chart. The data chronicle price fluctuations. If the spread widens during the trading session, then you know that demand among gamblers for betting on the favorite has intensified. And indeed, the chart for the Boston-Philly game on Dec. Huge bets on Boston in the middle of the trading session, between a. In the NBA markets, betting experts say, any move of 1.
The night after the Boston victory, according to all parties, the conspirators met once more, at Martino's house in the Philly suburb of Boothwyn. From here on out, Battista said, he and Donaghy would never communicate directly. Instead, Martino would be in the middle. They would use, per Martino's statement to the FBI, a code.
Martino had two brothers. One, Johnny, lived in Jersey. The other, Chuck, lived in Delco. According to Martino, if Donaghy mentioned out-of-state Johnny's name, the pick was for the visiting team. If Donaghy talked about Chuck, bet the home side. Not exactly the Enigma cipher but better than yapping about specific teams and risking someone overhearing. Ideally, Donaghy should make his pick as early as possible, preferably the night before his games, or at least the morning of.
That way, Battista could begin to prepare the markets, to manipulate the prices in their favor. He would start before dawn with the enormously liquid Asian betting markets, an amorphous group of black- and gray-market internet sportsbooks based in places like Manila and Kuala Lumpur. Normally this meant making a few "head fake" bets. If you think the Celtics are the side that's likely to cover, then you go to market as early in the trading session as possible and put some money on Philly.
Do it right and you can drive down the price of Boston. Then later in the day, with the price right, you gobble up all the Boston you can. According to Martino and Battista, after such wagering was complete, Battista, via Martino, would then inform Donaghy of the spread he needed to cover. And so it began From Philadelphia, Donaghy hopping to a Nets home game, then 1, miles west to Denver, then over to Seattle, then transcontinental to Atlanta, then southwest to Houston, then back east to DC -- Donaghy zigzagging across the country, in and out of NBA arenas, making his picks to Martino over those cheap bodega burner phones, but not always, because sometimes they'd forget and use their own regular phones, because who cared?
Battista bowing his head to his desk and snorting a line of coke to stay alert, to stay awake. Martino late at night on the phone with Donaghy, the pair having developed a nightly before-bed ritual: If Donaghy's pick was a winner, if the spread had been covered, Martino calling the ref and whispering "Good boy," and Donaghy echoing "Good boy" and then hanging up Donaghy calling two fouls 50 seconds apart against the 76ers' leading scorer, Andre Iguodala, in the third quarter against Boston , with the score's margin right on the spread.
Iguodala heading to the bench; Boston covering the spread Donaghy in Seattle, the Sonics hosting the Mavericks, calling 11 straight fouls against Seattle as well as the last foul of the night, with 23 seconds to go. Dallas making both free throws, increasing its lead to eight.
The closing line: Dallas by Battista usually watched these games at home, but sometimes not. Watching would give him agita, he's said, at which point he'd have to turn off the TV: "I remember being like, 'Oh s, he's getting out of hand.
I was like, 'If anyone's watching this, we've got a problem. Donaghy in Dallas on Jan. Favored by 12, Dallas covering Donaghy in Miami calling 12 fouls against visiting Charlotte, two against the Heat. The Heat covering Donaghy in Toronto calling four fouls against the visiting Nets' top scorer, Vince Carter, forcing him to the bench, the last one called by Donaghy when the ref was on the opposite side of the floor with the Raptors leading by three.
Toronto, favored by Money now pouring into games Donaghy is refereeing, the lines during trading sessions swinging violently, like stocks beset by takeover rumors-widening and narrowing by 1. Battista popping pills, Vicodin and OxyContin, sometimes falling asleep at the dinner table at restaurants, sometimes vomiting blood.
Battista wired and staying up all night and obsessively, blank-mindedly playing online blackjack and poker and even putting bets down on sports for which he had no special insight or inside information, and losing, losing, losing And then Donaghy whistling fouls on the visiting Heat 12 times in Madison Square Garden compared to four against the Knicks; the Knicks covering Martino flying to Toronto to pay Donaghy and to party, ordering prostitutes from a website Donaghy on March 14 in Indianapolis calling four straight fouls in the fourth against the underdog Pacers when they were losing by six to the visiting Wizards.
Favored by 6, the visiting Wizards covering Battista on March 16 strung out and sleepless at Martino's house and surrounded suddenly by almost his entire immediate family. An intervention Battista two days later wearing a bathrobe in rehab. Phil Scala had been investigating organized crime in New York City for almost 30 years when his squad received the tip.
Based in an anonymous office building in Kew Gardens, Queens, Scala and his agents had spent years assembling a network of informants inside the gang. And now, Scala would later tell me, one of the squad's snitches had divulged this new tip, too delicious to be ignored. An NBA referee, according to the informant, was "in the pocket" of some people in the sports-gambling underworld. The informant didn't know any names, and the people with the ref in their pocket did not appear to be made members of the Gambino crime family.
But the crucial betting information -- which sides of which games the ref favored -- had been seeping into the black-market gambling business. In particular, a crew of Gambino thugs in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn had figured out the formula and was supposedly, from what this informant had heard, winning millions on this ref's games. Illegal sports gambling was not Scala's focus. But stomping out a Mafia profit center was. Scala reached the FBI's mandatory retirement age in and is now a private detective based on Long Island.
But he has kept the investigative notes he took on his FBI cases, including the Donaghy case. Not long ago, he brought them out, looked at them and told me about them over the phone. When I asked if I could see the notes myself, he laughed. Scala's squad went to work. Phone records of gamblers said to have connections with the Gambino crime family were obtained and analyzed, phone numbers traced back to names.
As Scala told me, "If you can envision a spiderweb -- it might not be directly, but one or two or three spheres out, you find a name. And then one afternoon the case agent came into my office. He said, 'We found the guy. We found the referee.
They knew all about what he'd done, they told him; he was looking at 20 years. Better to cooperate. Lawyer , Battista replied. Just before entering rehab, according to Martino and law enforcement documents, Battista had handed over the reins of the operation to Rhino Ruggieri. Ruggieri was to play the same role Battista had -- mover, fund manager. Ruggieri did not respond to requests for comment. But soon enough, Martino says, Rhino learned about the nature of Battista's deal with Donaghy.
He and the other Animals who'd been following the bets were not happy. By now the spreads were moving violently. Word about Donaghy had permeated the market, followers following followers. Battista "was just ruining something that was totally quiet, that nobody knew about," said one of the Animals. 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. The more fouls calls, the more points will be scored.
Therefore, referees, that call more fouls will produce more points in the games they officiate. Basketball has specific signs for each situation. You can divide the referee signals into four categories: points, time, administrative decisions, and fouls. When it comes to bonuses, payout options and speeds, and betting limits — SportsBetting. Their payouts are fast, and they accept accounts from all 50 U. Please wait Bet Now Review. This content is not available We apologize for the inconvenience, but this content is not available.
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Check out our parlay calculator to see what your payout will be. CO Gambling problem? Call Indiana Self-Restriction Program. NJ Bet with your head, not over it! Gambling Problem? Call Gambler. Good luck this NBA season. The handicapping, sports odds information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only.
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