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Brooklyn man arrested for involvement in NBA gambling scheme

Prosecutors say Long Phi Pham bet on now-banned NBA player Jontay Porter's game performance after being told he'd withdraw early due to health issues.

BROOKLYN (CN) — A New York man accused of using insider knowledge to bet on NBA player Jontay Porter’s game performance was arraigned Tuesday for his involvement in the sports gambling scheme where prosecutors say he netted over $1 million in profits.

Long Phi Pham appeared in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday afternoon on charges he, along with co-conspirators, placed “under prop” bets on Porter’s performances on two games in 2024, knowing that he planned to withdraw from those games for purported health reasons.

“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,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a press release.

Porter — who previously played for the Toronto Raptors — was not named in the complaint but was banned from the league earlier this year after an NBA investigation revealed he had disclosed confidential information to bettors and placed at least 13 bets on NBA games using an associate’s online betting account.

According to prosecutors, Pham encouraged Porter to withdraw from two games prematurely to clear the significant gambling debts he had previously amassed.

Shortly before a game on January 26 against the Los Angeles Clippers, prosecutors say Porter messaged Pham and said he would be removing himself early from the game under claims he was injured.

After playing for approximately four minutes, Porter removed himself from the game and told team officials that he reaggravated an eye injury he was evaluated for a few days prior. But, prosecutors say, he did not subsequently complain about the injury until he was on the court.

Prosecutors also claim Pham was involved in a similar betting scheme involving a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings, in which he and his co-conspirators bet on Porter’s performance after Porter informed them he would remove himself early due to an illness.

In a group message thread, prosecutors say, Pham and Porter also came to a profit-sharing agreement to each receive 24% of the profits from successful bets.

When Porter’s betting account was suspended after being flagged for suspicious activity, prosecutors say he sent texts to Pham and the other co-conspirators to try and warn them of a potential federal investigation.

In one text, Porter said they “might get hit with a rico,” which prosecutors say refers to the anti-racketeering statute. In another message, Porter asked if the group chat recipients had “delete[d] all the stuff” from their personal cell phones, which prosecutors claim refers to evidence in connection with the gambling scheme.

Pham was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was trying to board a flight to Australia. He was found with approximately $12,000 in cash, two cashier’s checks totaling $80,000 a series of betting slips and three cell phones.

“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,” Peace said.

Pham is represented by attorney Michael Soshnick, who did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow @NikaSchoonover
Categories / Criminal, Sports

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