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Jontay Porter pleads guilty in NBA gambling scandal – NBC New York

Former NBA player Jontay Porter pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a federal criminal case related to the gambling scandal that saw him suspended from the league earlier this year.

The former Toronto Raptors center pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in a New York federal court and was set to be released on $250,000 bail.

His lawyer had previously said that Porter cooperated with authorities while receiving treatment for a gambling addiction.

Court documents show Porter’s case is connected to an ongoing prosecution of four other men. The four have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud but have not yet entered pleas.

The men are accused of fudging tips from an NBA player that he would leave two games early, and then using that knowledge or their family members to place large bets that the athlete would perform poorly in those games, according to a court complaint filed when they were charged in June.

The complaint did not name the player, but details matched an NBA investigation that led to Porter being removed from the league this spring. The league found he was betting on NBA games and giving gamblers confidential information about his health.

On Wednesday, Porter told the court he had agreed to retire early from competitions to clear large gambling debts that allowed him and his accomplices to win bets on his performances. “I know what I did was wrong and unlawful, and I deeply regret it,” he said.

Porter is scheduled to be sentenced on December 18. He faces a prison sentence of just under three and a half years to just over four years. He is also likely to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution, plus possible fines.

According to the complaint, one of the four men pressured the player to pay off his gambling debts by withdrawing from games early so that bets on his underperformance would be paid off.

In a message responding to the man’s instructions, the player wrote that if he didn’t carry out the plan, “you hate me and if I don’t get you 8k by Friday you’re coming to Toronto to beat me up.”

After tipping off several men, the player claimed he was injured or ill and withdrew from the Jan. 26 and March 20 games after appearing on the field for only a few minutes, the complaint said.

Porter played only briefly on those dates before complaining of injury or illness and leaving the games. His points, rebounds and assists in both games fell short of bookmakers’ expectations.

After the NBA and others began investigating, the player texted several men saying they “might get hit by Wa Rico,” an apparent reference to the common abbreviation for a federal racketeering charge, according to the complaint against them. The player also asked the men if they had “deleted everything” from their phones.

The NBA investigation found that Porter not only left at least one game for gamblers, but also bet on NBA games he wasn’t playing in, including once betting against his own team, the league said.

Porter averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26 games this season, including five as a starter. He also played in 11 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2020-21 season.

The 24-year-old’s NBA salary was approximately $410,000.

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