New York Man Detained at JFK for Participation in NBA Betting Scheme

A man from New York has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a sports betting scandal that resulted in the permanent ban of ex-NBA player Jontay Porter from the league.

Man arrested at JFK airport for alleged involvement in NBA betting scandal.

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On June 3, Long Phi Pham was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to board a one-way flight to Australia. Authorities have charged Pham with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, accusing him of participating in a scheme including Jontay Porter, that undermined the integrity of NBA games.

Unusual Betting Patterns Triggered Investigation

The investigation began when the NBA detected unusual betting patterns related to Porter’s performance in games played between January 26 and March 20. According to court documents, Porter, who was then a member of the Toronto Raptors, worked with others to manipulate his game statistics to benefit those who bet on his underperformance. This scheme allowed them to win substantial sums by placing prop bets on Porter’s performances.

US Attorney Breon Peace stated that Pham, along with other unnamed co-conspirators, worked with Porter to ensure he left games early due to minor injuries. This manipulation corrupted the integrity of professional sports and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent, Peace emphasized.

Porter had accumulated significant gambling debts to one of the conspirators, who then coerced him into participating in the scheme to clear his debts. Messages on the Telegram app revealed Porter’s plans to feign injuries and exit games early, resulting in his performance stats falling below the bookmakers’ thresholds. One message highlighted the pressure Porter was under, including threats of violence if he failed to comply.

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Fake Eye Injuries and Illnesses

During the January 26 game, Porter played briefly before claiming an eye injury, leading to lower-than-expected performance stats. This earned the conspirators large sums of money, with one individual making $75,000 from a bet of $10,000. The scheme was repeated in a March 20 game when Porter again exited early, this time citing illness, allowing the plotters to profit once more.

The NBA's investigation into these suspicious bets eventually involved the FBI after betting firms reported anomalies in betting patterns. The NBA and the International Betting Integrity Association then conducted a closer examination.

Federal agents attempted to interview a co-conspirator on May 30, prompting Pham to quickly book his flight to Australia, leading to his arrest. When apprehended, Pham had $12,000 in cash, cashier’s checks totaling $80,000, three cell phones, and numerous betting slips. If convicted, Pham faces up to 20 years in prison.

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