Stern's turn to answer questions What did the NBA know and when? That's just the beginning.

Posted: July 24, 2007

NEW YORK — With his league facing its biggest scandal ever, NBA commissioner David Stern plans to hold a news conference this morning. The first question he must answer is what, and when, the league knew of former referee Tim Donaghy's gambling habits.

Donaghy, a graduate of Cardinal O'Hara High and Villanova, officiated the last game of his 13-year NBA career during the San Antonio-Phoenix playoff series. Stern surely will be asked if the league could have known of Donaghy's problems by then.

The FBI is investigating Donaghy for allegedly betting on games he officiated during the last two seasons. The New York Daily News reported that he is expected to surrender as early as Thursday to face federal gambling charges and plans to cooperate with prosecutors, according to court documents unsealed yesterday.

The referee is named as a "John Doe" in papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, a legal step that suggests Donaghy plans to plead guilty to the charges and help in the probe, sources close to the case told the newspaper.

A grand jury is expected to indict at least two gamblers with mob connections in the scheme.

Authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered thousands of dollars over the last two seasons, according to a law enforcement official. The 40-year-old referee had a gambling problem and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance, the official said.

Another person with knowledge of the FBI investigation told the Associated Press the league was unaware of the inquiry until after the NBA Finals. But the Denver Post reported Sunday that the NBA was made aware of the probe in January.

According to R.J. Bell, president of the sports betting Web site, Donaghy's games went above the over/under line 57 percent of the time in the last two seasons after doing so only 44 percent of the time from 2003 to '05.

Perhaps more damaging, Bell found that in games where the spread moved at least 1 1/2 points, the team getting the big action covered in 10 straight games officiated by Donaghy from January through April of this year. The odds of that, he said, were 1,024 to 1.

Over the weekend, police staked out Donaghy's home in Bradenton, Fla., after he received two telephone threats. Both calls seemed to come from the same unidentified caller, Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Randy Warren said.

Donaghy did not have a listed phone number at his home. He previously lived in West Chester.

Donaghy's father, Jerry, was a respected college basketball official from Havertown who worked numerous NCAA tournaments, including the Final Four.

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