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Thursday, August 30, 2007
Refs' representative in NBA probe assisted during investigation

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- A former federal prosecutor tapped to represent NBA referees in the league's review of its officiating counseled five referees interviewed by the FBI during the Tim Donaghy probe.

The five had no inkling that Donaghy was betting on games, lawyer Gregory T. Magarity said.

"They all knew him. They all reffed with him. But none of them knew anything about illegal gambling," Magarity said Thursday from his office in Philadelphia.

"He was doing this stuff from pay phones, calling bets into somebody. Nobody saw anything; no one suspected anything like that," Magarity said.

NBA commissioner David Stern plans a sweeping review of league officiating in the wake of this summer's betting scandal, in which Donaghy pleaded guilty to betting on games and providing inside information to others. The NBA has hired former federal prosecutor Lawrence B. Pedowitz to oversee the effort.

Magarity likely will negotiate terms of the review with Pedowitz and represent the referees' union and any referees interviewed during the process, he said.

He does not expect any further legal fallout, and questioned the source of reports that Donaghy will name 20 colleagues involved in casual -- but perhaps impermissible -- gambling activities.

"His credibility would be highly suspect at the least," Magarity said. "I don't know who he supposedly told that 20 referees gambled legally -- whatever that means. It could be they bought a Powerball ticket."

He said he believes Donaghy's was an isolated case of someone intentionally breaking the law out of greed. Nonetheless, he understands the league's decision to conduct a review.

"This was a major scandal that rocked the NBA. It certainly rocked the referees association," Magarity said. "They want to take a look at everything ... to try to prevent anything like this from ever happening again."