New York man charged in betting scheme that ended ex-Raptors player Jontay Porter's NBA career

A New York man has been charged in federal court for a sports betting scheme that saw former Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter get banned from the NBA for life. 

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced Tuesday that a criminal complaint was filed against Long Phi “Bruce” Pham of Brooklyn for conspiring with others to defraud a sports betting company by placing multiple “under prop” bets on two NBA games with knowledge that the player they were betting on would ensure the wagers placed on his performance would be successful. 

The player in the complaint was only identified as “Player 1,” but information in the complaint matches the details of the sports betting violations committed by Porter, which led to him being suspended from the league in April. 

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“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters. As alleged, the defendant and his co-conspirators, as well as an NBA player, participated in a brazen, illegal betting scheme that had a corrupting influence on two games and numerous bets,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. 

“This prosecution serves as a warning that fraud and dishonesty in professional sports will not be tolerated and those who engage in this flagrant flouting of the law will be prosecuted.”

According to the District Attorney’s office, “Player 1” amassed large gambling debts to some co-conspirators. It is alleged that he was “encouraged to clear those debts by withdrawing from certain games prematurely to ensure that under prop bets on Player 1’s performance were successful.” 

NBA BANS RAPTORS’ JONTAY PORTER FOR VIOLATING GAMBLING POLICY

During a Jan. 26 game, the player exited a game early with an eye injury, resulting in several bettors winning those “under” prop bets. A relative of one co-conspirator placed a $7,000 wager which resulted in an $85,000 win. Another co-conspirator won $40,250 on the same game. 

The complaint further alleges that the player informed the con-conspirators before a March 20 game that he would remove himself early, claiming he was ill. The player did so after just three minutes of play, resulting in the defendant and his co-conspirators earning over $1 million in profits, which they agreed to share. 

Once the NBA began investigating Porter, the player allegedly warned Pham and others via an encrypted messaging app April 4 that they “might just get hit w a rico,” referencing a possible federal racketeering charge. He asked whether they had deleted “all the stuff” from their phones, according to the complaint.

Porter was suspended by the NBA in April. 

“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 gaming rules are being met with the most severe punishment,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the time. 

“While legal sports betting creates transparency that helps identify suspicious or abnormal activity, this matter also raises important issues about the sufficiency of the regulatory framework currently in place, including the types of bets offered on our games and players.  Working closely with all relevant stakeholders across the industry, we will continue to work diligently to safeguard our league and game.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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