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Does Tony Soprano Have An NBA Referee On The Payroll?(M)
Hate to have to post this, but it's pretty interesting and could have a potential to explode as more information comes out. The first article speaks more about mob ties and gambling. The ESPN article only states that the referee allegedly bet on games he worked, and focused less on any organized crime stuff. Oh Paulie Walnuts...
NBA IN A 'FIX'
FEDS PROBING REF IN MAFIA BET SCAM FOUL!
July 20, 2007 -- THE FBI is investigating an NBA referee who allegedly was betting on basketball games - including ones he was officiating during the past two seasons - as part of an organized-crime probe in the Big Apple, The Post has learned.
The investigation, which began more than a year ago, is zeroing in on blockbuster allegations that the referee was making calls that affected the point spread to guarantee that he - and the hoods who had their hooks in him - cashed in on large bets.
Federal agents are set to arrest the referee and a cadre of mobsters and their associates who lined their pockets, sources said.
"These are dangerous people [the referee] was involved with," a source said.
One source close to the probe counted the number of games on which the ref and his wiseguy buddies scored windfalls in the "double digits."
NBA Commissioner David Stern is aware of the investigation and has a report about the referee on his desk, another source said.
The official, whose name was withheld, allegedly wagered on games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 NBA seasons.
James Margolin, an FBI spokesman, declined comment on the latest black eye for professional sports.
The sources indicated the referee apparently had a gambling problem, slipped into debt and fell prey to mob thugs.
"That's how he got himself into this predicament" by wagering with mob-connected bookies, one source said.
Professional basketball has remained largely unscathed by allegations of game-fixing, although college basketball has been rocked by several scandals involving point-shaving by players, but not officials.
One of the most recent was a Boston College point-shaving scam arranged in the 1980s by mobster Henry Hill, who bribed several players. Hill later became a government informant, and his life was depicted in the movie "GoodFellas."
Having a referee in their pockets provides a two-fold bonanza to game fixers.
Gamblers would be able to directly cash in by betting on games where they knew the point spread was compromised.
But having a ref in their pocket could prove even more lucrative to crooks in a bookmaking syndicate.
Bookmakers hope to encourage an equal amount of betting on each team and make their money on the "vigorish," which is typically 10 percent of a losing bet.
But armed with the inside information, the bookmaking syndicate could set an artificial point spread that would encourage large "layoff" bets from other bookies carrying too much action on one team, that were likely now to lose.
An FBI organized-crime squad in the bureau's flagship New York office is handling the case, but the referee traveled the country officiating various games on which he allegedly bet.
It was not determined which games were allegedly affected by the referee's actions, or how much money may have been won by him and his cohorts.
The FBI got wind of the scheme while conducting a separate mob investigation.
The most prominent American sport- gambling scandal in recent history involved Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on his own team.
Based largely on testimony of two Rose associates, Ron Peters and Paul Janszen, Major League Baseball determined that from 1985 through 1987, Rose bet on baseball, including 52 Reds games in 1987, at a minimum of $10,000 a game.
All of Rose's bets on Cincinnati were to win.
FBI probes allegations NBA ref bet on games he worked
ESPN.com news services
Updated: July 20, 2007, 10:37 AM ET
NEW YORK -- The FBI is investigating allegations that a veteran NBA referee bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated.
According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered.
The investigation first was reported Friday by the New York Post.
The law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on Friday on condition of anonymity, said the referee was aware of the investigation and had made arrangements to surrender as early as next week to face charges. The official, who did not identify the referee, is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
The law enforcement official said the bets involved thousands of dollars and were made on games during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.
The NBA issued a brief statement Friday: "We have been asked by the FBI, with whom we are working closely, not to comment on this matter at this time."
The probe, which began recently, also involves allegations that the referee had connections to organized crime associates. Other arrests are expected, the official said.
The referee had a gambling problem, according to the official, and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance.
"These accusations, if true, are extremely serious and we have been in discussions with the NBA regarding this matter," Lamell McMorris, head of the NBA Referees Association, told Bloomberg News. "In light of the fact that this is an ongoing federal criminal investigation, we have nothing further to say at this time."