Ex-NBA player Jontay Porter to face felony charges in sports betting gambling scandal: court filings

NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors have publicly signaled they’ll criminally charge former Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter in the sports gambling scandal that got him banned from the NBA for life.

Porter, 24, appeared on a Brooklyn Federal Court docket Wednesday, marking the first time he has been publicly named in court documents in connection with the alleged game-rigging conspiracy.

Court filings indicate that federal prosecutors are seeking felony charges against the former NBA player in connection with the conspiracy to commit wire fraud case brought against four gamblers last month.

They expect to charge him through an “information” document instead of an indictment, which typically happens when a suspect plans to plead guilty to the charges at the case’s onset.

The four gamblers — Long Phi Pham, Mahmud Mollah, Timothy McCormack and Ammar Awawdeh — got advance word from a hoops player that he planned to leave two NBA games early, one on Jan. 26, the other on March 20, according to federal prosecutors.

Although court filings in their case referred to the hoopster only as “Player 1,” the details described in a criminal complaint match up to Porter, who was hit with a lifetime ban from the NBA in April.

The betting ring members are accused of leveraging the player’s gambling debts to get him to leave the games for medical reasons after a few minutes.

Awawdeh broached the idea of clearing his debts by convincing him to withdraw from the games early so “under prop bets” on his performance paid out, according to the feds.

He agreed, responding to a Telegram message from Awawdeh with the text, “If I don’t do a special with your terms. Then it’s up. And u hate me and if I don’t get u 8k by Friday you’re coming to Toronto to beat me up,” according to a criminal complaint.

The gamblers were poised to make bank in the March 20 game, since just a few days earlier, the player had one of his best games of the season, playing 20 minutes with seven rebounds.

Mollah went big with his wagers, placing more than $100,000 in a series of bets that paid out more than $1.2 million, the feds said.

The online betting company he used flagged those wagers as suspicious before he could collect most of the winnings, though, and suspended his account.

The NBA opened an investigation into Porter after the March 20 game, and on April 4, the player told the suspects in a group message they “might just get hit w a rico,” according to court filings.

The NBA concluded that he “violated league rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, limiting his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and betting on NBA games,” the league said in an April 17 statement.

In a statement given to The Associated Press last month, Porter’s lawyer Jeff Jensen, said, “Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this. He was in over his head due to a gambling addiction. He is undergoing treatment and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement.”

Jensen did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.