|NY judge questions NBA's restitution request|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 25 June 2008 13:06|
``Is it even recoverable?'' U.S. District Judge Carol Amon asked of the $516,971 tab for a law firm that interviewed 57 NBA referees as part of the internal investigation.
The judge, at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, ordered the NBA to produce more documents to support the claim before she makes a final decision on whether Donaghy must pay the $1.4 million as part of his punishment when he's sentenced on July 14. She also criticized the league for not seeking the sum until June, nearly 10 months after Donaghy pleaded guilty to felony charges of taking cash payoffs from gamblers.
``This comes very late in the game,'' she said.
The NBA has argued that Donaghy, by admitting he bet on about half the games he officiated for three seasons beginning in 2003, owes the league roughly half his wages for that period: $504,719. The league also claims he should pay back $72,593 for the 16 games on which he provided tips to gamblers during the 2006-2007 season.
Other costs the league wants repaid: $750 it spent on sneakers for the referee, $4,500 for complimentary tickets he received over the years and other miscellaneous items.
The judge questioned the calculations, telling NBA lawyer Paul Shechtman, ``I think there's a serious issue as to whether you're entitled to anything beyond the 2006-2007 season.''
Shechtman argued that Donaghy's own betting and dealings with gamblers ``comprised a scheme in which we were victimized from beginning to end.''
Defense attorney John Lauro countered that the criminal case ``had nothing to do with conduct prior to the 2006-2007 season.'' He also said the NBA's internal review found that Donaghy earned his pay honestly in the earlier seasons.
``No games were rigged,'' he said. ``He called the shots the right way.''
Besides possible restitution, the 41-year-old Donaghy faces up to 33 months in prison.
Donaghy's lawyer has accused the NBA of seeking to financially ``destroy'' his client for clouding the recently completed NBA finals with fresh accusations that the league routinely encouraged refs to ring up bogus fouls to manipulate results to protect ticket sales and television ratings.
The allegations - contained in court papers arguing that Donaghy deserved leniency for voluntarily disclosing corruption - include one instance in which referees rigged a 2002 playoff series with bad calls to force it to a revenue-boosting seven games.
Though the papers didn't name the teams involved, only the Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings series went to seven games during those playoffs. The Lakers went on to win the championship.
NBA commissioner David Stern has called the allegations baseless, saying Donaghy was only ``singing'' to get a lighter sentence.