Man charged in betting scheme involving Porter

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A Brooklyn man was charged Tuesday in connection with an alleged illegal sports betting scheme involving Jontay Porter, the former Toronto Raptors player who was banned from the NBA after he bet on his own team to lose.

After allegedly amassing large gambling debts to co-conspirators in the alleged scheme, Porter, called “Player 1” in the court complaint, was encouraged to clear those debts by withdrawing from certain games prematurely to make sure bets on his performance were successful.

According to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, Long Phi “Bruce” Pham, knowing that Porter planned to withdraw from the game, placed bets on Porter’s performance for the Raptors’ matchup against the LA Clippers on Jan. 26.

Shortly before that game, prosecutors said Porter told Pham he would exit early in the contest, claiming he was injured. As a result, a co-conspirator won $40,250.

Pham, 38, was arrested at JFK Airport in New York on Monday as he tried to board a flight to Australia on a one-way ticket, according to the criminal complaint. He was ordered detained Tuesday pending trial on a charge of conspiring to defraud a sports betting company.

Three unnamed co-conspirators charged in the scheme remain at large. It’s unclear whether Porter, 24, is under investigation in the criminal case.

Pham and his co-conspirators netted over $1 million in profits overall, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “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.

“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 against the Sacramento Kings on March 20, Pham and co-conspirators discussed in a Telegram group chat that Porter would again exit early, claiming he felt ill, according to the criminal complaint.

Pham and his co-conspirators met at a casino in Atlantic City and placed several bets on Porter, who removed himself from the March game after playing just three minutes and recording 0 points, 3 rebounds and 0 assists.

On April 4, in a group chat among Porter and the conspirators, Porter 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.

Porter was banned by the NBA on April 17 after an investigation.

Aaron Katersky is a senior investigative reporter for ABC News.

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