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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Donaghy classmate pleads guilty to conspiracy

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- A former high school classmate of Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he paid the disgraced basketball referee thousands of dollars for inside betting tips on NBA games.

Thomas Martino, 42, told a federal judge in Brooklyn that Donaghy was involved in a scheme to provide "good picks" on the games "for gambling purposes."

"If Donaghy's picks won, he was paid for his information," Martino said, adding that he had arranged secret meetings with the referee to deliver the payments.

Outside court, defense attorney Vicki Herr said her client had indicated that Donaghy was "pretty accurate" when it came to picking winners.

Martino, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the NBA, faces 12 to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced July 11.

The defendant left court without speaking to reporters. His lawyer insisted his role in the scheme was minor, and that she would ask the court to sentence him to probation.

Donaghy, 41, of Bradenton, Fla., pleaded guilty last year to charges he conspired to engage in wire fraud and transmitted betting information through interstate commerce.

The referee said he made NBA bets for four years, even wagering on games he worked. He also admitted recommending bets to high-stakes gamblers and collecting $5,000 if his picks hit.

Donaghy is scheduled to be sentenced May 30. By law, he faces up to 25 years in prison, though the term could be much lower under sentencing guidelines.

A third defendant, professional gambler James Battista, is due in court Monday, when he's expected to plead guilty. The three men attended high school together in Springfield, Pa.