Man Arrested, Charged with Fraud in Former NBA Player Jontay Porter’s Betting Scheme

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A man involved in the betting scandal that led to former Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter’s ban from the NBA was charged Tuesday with conspiring to defraud a sportsbook, according to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York and the FBI. 

Long Phi Pham, 38, was arrested at JFK Airport in New York on Monday with a one-way ticket to Australia, bags filled with $12,000 in cash and two cashiers checks worth $80,000.

Pham appeared in front of magistrate on Tuesday and ordered to be detained pending trial.

The criminal complaint alleges three co-conspirators were involved in the betting scheme. They “remain at large.”  

“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters,” United States attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “As alleged, the defendant and his co-conspirators, as well as an NBA player, participated in a brazen, illegal betting scheme that had a corrupting influence on two games and numerous bets.”  

Placing the bets

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Porter, listed as “Player 1” in the complaint, told Pham he would pull himself out of a Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers to pay off “large gambling debts” owned to a co-conspirator.

Pham and co-conspirators bet the under on Porter’s player props through a legal sportsbook. He scored no points, had no 3-pointers made or steals, recorded one assist, and grabbed three rebounds in four minutes before removing himself from the game and telling team officials he re-aggravated an eye injury suffered four days earlier. 

A relative of a co-conspirator netted $75,000 after wagering under on Porter’s 3-pointers, assists, and steals. A co-conspirator cashed in for a $40,250 win after hitting four unders in a $7,000 parlay. 

On March 20, the group met in an Atlantic City casino after discussing on the Telegram app that Porter would become ill during a game against the Sacramento Kings. 

Several bettors, including the conspirators, placed multiple wagers on Porter’s player props and cashed after he recorded no points or points and just three rebounds in three minutes of action.   

The complaint alleges that Pham and the co-conspirators hauled in more than $1 million in earnings.   

Warning to conspirators

The criminal complaint alleges that the betting scheme began when Porter was “encouraged” to withdraw from games early to pay off the person he owned.

Before Porter’s ban in April, he told the conspirators in a group chat that they could get hit with racketeering chargers and asked if the participants had “delete(d) all the stuff” from their cell phones. 

It’s unknown if the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating Porter or if/when the co-conspirators could be charged. 

Pham faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of wire fraud.  

“This prosecution serves as a warning that fraud and dishonesty in professional sports will not be tolerated and those who engage in this flagrant flouting of the law will be prosecuted,” Peace said.

Banned from basketball

The NBA banned Porter on April 17 after the league discovered that he bet on at least 13 games, including parlays involving the Raptors, through someone else’s sportsbook account. 

The NBA also found that Porter had given health information to known bettors, one of them being Pham, and manipulated playing time for bets to cash. 

Porter’s last game came two days after the March 20 betting scheme contest when he recorded seven points, eight assists, and three rebounds in 20 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

U.S. Integrity, a watchdog firm that works with the NBA and multiple sportsbooks, flagged those two games for suspicious betting activity, and the league began an investigation.

This article was originally sourced from www.covers.com