Former NBA player Jontay Porter pleads guilty in sports betting conspiracy

NEW YORK — Disgraced NBA player Jontay Porter pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in the sports betting scandal that wrecked his pro basketball career.

Porter, 24, entered into a plea agreement in Brooklyn Federal Court Wednesday, pleading guilty to a single count of wire fraud conspiracy. The towering former Toronto Raptors center and power forward conspired with a quartet of gamblers to rig two NBA games so he could claw his way out of his betting debts, federal prosecutors said.

His alleged co-conspirators, Long Phi Pham, Mahmud Mollah, Timothy McCormack and Ammar Awawdeh, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud last month.

“I know what I did was wrong and unlawful, and I am deeply sorry for my conduct,” he said at the Wednesday hearing.

Based on federal sentencing guidelines, Porter could face between 41 and 51 months in prison when he’s sentenced Dec. 18, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines. His lawyer has said in the past he’s cooperating with prosecutors, but it’s unclear how that will factor into his ultimate sentence.

At Awawdeh’s urging, Porter left two games early for medical reasons, one on Jan. 26, the other on March 20, giving the conspiracy members a heads-up so they could make big bets that he’d underperform in those games, the feds allege.

“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,” he wrote to Awawdeh in a Telegram message, according to a criminal complaint against the gamblers.

Porter pulled himself from the Raptors’ Jan. 26 game against the L.A. Clippers after playing just four minutes and scoring zero points with three rebounds and an assist, telling team officials he had reaggravated an eye injury from a few days earlier. He also left a March 20 game after just three minutes.

Mollah in particular bet big on the March 20 game, placing more than $100,000 in a series of wagers that would have paid out more than $1.2 million if the online betting company he used hadn’t flagged them as suspicious, the feds allege.

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.

On April 17, the NBA announced Porter was banned from the league for life, because 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.”

He’s the second person to be banned since Adam Silver became NBA commissioner in 2014. The first was former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was caught on audio making racist comments.