Man charged in illegal betting scheme involving former NBA player Jontay Porter

Jontay Porter of the Toronto Raptors warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers, March 9, 2024, in Portland, Ore. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(NEW YORK) — A Brooklyn man was charged Tuesday in connection with an illegal sports betting scheme involving Jontay Porter, the former Toronto Raptors player who received a lifetime ban from the NBA in April after he bet on his own team to lose.

Porter pretended to be injured before a January game between the Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers. According to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, Bruce Pham placed bets on Porter’s performance, knowing Porter planned to withdraw from the game.

Porter had amassed large gambling debts to certain of the co-conspirators in the alleged scheme, the complaint says. Porter was encouraged to clear those debts by withdrawing from certain games prematurely to make sure bets on his performance were successful.

Shortly before the January game, prosecutors said Porter told Pham he would be removing himself early from the game, claiming that he was injured. As a result, a co-conspirator won $40,250, according to prosecutors.

“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,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace. “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.”

Prior to a game on March 20, Pham and his co-conspirators discussed in a Telegram group chat that Porter would be removing himself early from the game, claiming that he felt ill, according to the criminal complaint. Pham and his co-conspirators allegedly met at a casino in Atlantic City and placed several bets on Porter. After playing just three minutes and recording zero points, three rebounds and zero assists, Porter removed himself from the game.

On April 4, in a group chat between Porter and the conspirators, Porter allegedly wrote to the group that they “might just get hit w a rico,” referring to a racketeering charge, and asked if the group chat participants had “delete[d] all the stuff” from their personal cell phones, according to the complaint.

Pham was ordered detained pending trial. Three co-conspirators charged in the scheme remain at large.

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