Jontay Porter has pleaded guilty to federal charges for his involvement in an illegal gambling scheme which led to his lifetime ban from competing in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The former Toronto Raptors forward pleaded guilty to wire fraud during his arrangement on Wednesday 10 July in a New York federal court. The 24 year-old could face up to 20 years in prison, but prosecutors are recommending between 41 to 51 months of incarceration.

He has been released on bail of $250,000 issued by his mother and wife. Porter is also undoing problem gambling counselling, and on top of his prison time is expected to pay $456,000 in fines and restitution to the NBA, in the case of the latter for breaching his player contract.

“I knew what I did was wrong and unlawful and I’m deeply sorry for my conduct,” Porter told Brooklyn Federal Judge James R. Cho during his arraignment.

The NBA opened an investigation into suspicious betting activity after wagers were flagged by the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA). The investigation subsequently implicated Porter in a betting conspiracy, which he engaged in to pay back gambling debts.

What went down?

The investigation found that Porter had provided insider information to a group of co-conspirators, who allegedly encouraged Porter to exit certain NBA games early. The conspirators in question were Long Phi Pham, Timothy McCormack, Mahmud Mollah and Ammar Awawdeh. 

On 26 January Porter notified Pham of his intention to exit a game against the Los Angeles Clippers early due to an injury. Porter’s notice led McCormack and a relative of Awawdeh to place parlay wagers on the “under” player prop market for Porter.

Porter exited the Clippers game early with limited minutes. McCormack placed a $7,00 parlay wager on several “under” prop markets for Porter while the relative of Awawdeh placed a similar $10,000 parlay bet. The bets won due to Porter’s early exit with McCormack netting a $33,250 profit whilst Awawdeh’s relative walked away with $75,000.

The former NBA forward also provided insider information for a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings. Several days before the contest, Porter notified family and team officials that he was ill with food poisoning, a claim now believed to be false. He then informed co-conspirators that he would exit the 20 March game early.

Ahead of the Kings fixture, Pham and the other co-conspirators allegedly met at an Atlantic City casino to place bets on Porter “under” props amid his plan to exit early.

The relative of Awawdeh allegedly transferred $65,000 to McCormack via PayPal ahead of the game before an attempt to transfer an additional $25,000 was blocked. Geolocation data records from the casino also show a $66,900 deposit by Mollah into a sportsbook account on March 20.

McCormack would later place a $8,000 parlay wager on a Porter “under” market while Mollah bet over $100,000. The former NBA forward would only play three minutes against the Kings. McCormack netted a $36,000 profit while Mollah won $1m. However, the sportsbook flagged the bets as suspicious before either man could withdraw any winnings.

Once the extent of Porter’s involvement in the scheme was uncovered, the NBA undertook the decision to hand down its most severe punishment to date. 

League Commissioner, Adam Silver, explained the rationale back in April, saying: “There is nothing more important than protecting the integrity of NBA competition for our fans, our teams and everyone associated with our sport, which is why Jontay Porter’s blatant violations of our game rules are being met with the most severe punishment.”

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