NEW YORK (AP) -Disgraced referee Tim Donaghy should be sentenced to probation because he cooperated in the probe into NBA betting and because he has ``a pathological gambling condition,'' his lawyers said in a letter filed in court Monday.
In the letter to U.S. District Court Judge Carol B. Amon, filed in Brooklyn federal court, lawyers for Donaghy argued that their client's cooperation with government investigators in the betting probe ``will lead to future reforms that will change the way in which the NBA conducts itself.''
The veteran referee pleaded guilty last year to felony charges for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated.
While citing Donaghy's commitment to his family, charitable activities and positive feedback for his career as a referee prior to his ``tragic fall from grace,'' the lawyers said that their client's ``aberrant conduct'' can only be understood in the context of his gambling addiction, a ``crippling disease, which prevented him from exercising complete rational self control.''
Nevertheless, the lawyers said Donaghy is taking steps to get treatment for his condition, including therapy with a gambling counselor and attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
``Without a doubt, Tim made significant errors in judgment, but he also tried to right the wrongs of his conduct by assisting the government and seeking treatment for his disorder,'' the lawyers asserted.
NBA executive Joel Litvin called the filing a ``desperate act of a convicted felon who is hoping to avoid prison time ... the only thing it proves is that Mr. Donaghy is no more trustworthy today then he was when he was breaking the law by betting on NBA games.''
Donaghy is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22.

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