Ex-NBA player Jontay Porter pleads guilty in case tied to gambling scandal that tanked his career

NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA player Jontay Porter admitted Wednesday that he schemed to take himself out of games for gambling's sake, pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy crime in the scandal that already got him banned from the league.

“I know what I did was wrong, unlawful, and I am deeply sorry,” the former Toronto Raptors center said as he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Echoing findings in an NBA investigation and allegations in an ongoing prosecution of four other men, Porter acknowledged that he agreed to withdraw early from games so that co-conspirators could win bets on his performance.

He did it, he said, “to get out from under large gambling debts.”

Porter, 24, is free on $250,000 bond while awaiting sentencing set for Dec. 18.

Prosecutors estimated his sentence at a range from just under three and a half years in prison to a little over four years. Ultimately it will be up to a judge, who could impose anything from no time to 20 years behind bars. Porter also is likely to be assessed hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines.

He and his lawyer left court without speaking to reporters. The attorney, Jeff Jensen, later declined by email to comment beyond a statement he made last month, in which he said Porter “was in over his head due to a gambling addiction.”

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this,” Jensen said at the time.

Porter told the court he has undergone inpatient rehab for a gambling problem and remains in therapy.

In a related case, four other men are charged with scheming to profit off tips from an NBA player that he was going to exit two games early. They or their relatives used the knowledge to place big-winning bets that the athlete would do poorly in those games, according to a court complaint filed when they were charged in June. They haven't yet entered pleas.

The complaint against them didn’t name the player. But details matched up with the NBA investigation that found that Porter gave bettors confidential information about his health, exited at least one game because of bets and wagered on NBA games in which he didn’t play. He once bet against his own team, the league said.

According to the complaint, one of the four men pressed the player to clear up gambling debts by prematurely pulling out of games so that bets on him underperforming would pay off.

In a message responding to the man's instructions, the player wrote that if he didn't carry out the plan, “u hate me and if I don’t get u 8k by Friday you’re coming to Toronto to beat me up.”

After tipping off some of the men, the player claimed injury or illness and withdrew from Jan. 26 and March 20 games after only minutes on the court, the complaint said.

Porter played only briefly on those dates before complaining he was hurt or sick and exiting the games. His points, rebounds and assists in both games fell below sportsbooks' expectations.

According to the complaint, some of the alleged conspirators agreed in advance to share about a quarter of any winnings from the March 20 game with the player. One gambler was on track to collect over $1 million before a betting company got suspicious and stopped him from getting most of the money.

After the NBA and others began investigating, the player messaged some of the men that they “might just get hit w a rico,” an apparent reference to the common acronym for a federal racketeering charge, according to the complaint against them. It said the player also asked the men whether they had deleted “all the stuff” from their phones.

Porter averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26 games this season, including five starts. He also played in 11 games for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2020-21 season.

His NBA salary was about $410,000.

07/10/2024 21:34 -0400

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