How former ref Tim Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games
James”Jimmy””Bah-Bah””The Sheep” Battista was a stressed-out, obese, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, in the hole to a underground gamblers for sums he’d kind of lost track of, even when he settled in to watch an NBA game for which he believed he would simply put in the correct. It was January 2007. A month or so back, not long before Christmas, he had done something audacious: He had sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. He feared the scheme had become overly obvious.
“You wanna get paid?” Battista had stated to the ref. “Then you have ta pay the f–ing spread” The bribe was two dimes, $2,000 per game — an outrageous deal. If the choice won, the ref got his two dimes. In case the choice missed, the ref owed nothing; Battista would eat the loss. A”free roll,” as they call it. However, this referee didn’t lose much. His picks were winning at an 88 percent clip, totally unheard of in sports gambling for any sustained time period. They’re now entering the sixth week of the scheme — what you might call a sustained period of time.
Battista had known the ref, Timmy Donaghy, for 25 years. They had gone to the same parochial high school in the suburban neighborhoods of Delaware County, just outside Philadelphia — Delco, since it’s sometimes called — where the sports bars are abundant, where a particular easy familiarity with forms of betting prevails, where men have bookies like they have got dentists.
Battista was a creature of the world. He was what’s called a mover. Strictly speaking, movers are neither gamblers nor bookmakers. They are a species of broker that supplies solutions to sports bettors, putting down wagers on their clients’ benefit with bookmakers of various sorts around the world, lawful and not. Battista was set well in that world that, without Donaghy’s understanding but predicated on Donaghy’s picks, he had helped set up a sort of loose, disorderly hedge fund. Several individuals from the sports-betting underworld had, in consequence, staked Battista a basketball — a finance that he was now having to bet on games officiated by this one NBA referee. One member of this team called it”the ticket” and”the company.”