Thursday, July 18, 2024

Booted out of NBA, former player Jontay Porter due in court in betting case

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA player Jontay Porter is due in court Wednesday to face a federal criminal case tied to the betting scandal that got him banned from the league earlier this year.

Court records show the former Toronto Raptors center is scheduled for an arraignment and “plea agreement hearing.” Prosecutors haven’t specified the charge or charges, except to say in a brief court document that it’s a felony case.

Porter’s lawyer hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment since the court paperwork was filed last week. The attorney has previously said that Porter was cooperating with authorities while being treated for a gambling addiction.

Last week’s skeletal court filing showed the case against Porter is related to an ongoing prosecution of four other men. The four have been arraigned on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud but haven’t yet entered any pleas.

Those men are charged with scheming to profit off tips from an NBA player that he was going to exit two games early. They or their relatives used the knowledge to place big-winning bets that the athlete would do poorly in those games, according to a court complaint filed when they were charged in June.

The complaint didn’t name the player. But it said he had spoken to investigators in hopes of getting a plea deal and sentencing break “in the event he is criminally charged.”

According to the complaint, one of the four men pressed the player to clear up gambling debts by prematurely pulling out of games so that bets on him underperforming would pay off.

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

After tipping off some of the men, the player claimed injury or illness and withdrew from Jan. 26 and March 20 games after only minutes on the court, the complaint said.

Porter played only briefly on those dates before complaining he was hurt or sick and exiting the games. His points, rebounds and assists in both games fell below sportsbooks’ expectations.

After the NBA and others began investigating, the player messaged some of the men that they “might just get hit w a rico,” an apparent reference to the common acronym for a federal racketeering charge, according to the complaint against them. It said the player also asked the men whether they had deleted “all the stuff” from their phones.

The NBA’s probe found that Porter not only exited at least one game for gamblers’ sake but also wagered on NBA games in which he didn’t play. He once bet 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 starts. He also played in 11 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2020-21 season.

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

Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press

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