NEW YORK The NBA wants to financially "destroy" disgraced referee Tim Donaghy for embarrassing the league during the playoffs with allegations that outcomes of previous games were purposely manipulated by bad calls, his lawyer charged Monday.
The attorney, John Lauro, asked a federal judge to force the league to produce more evidence supporting its demand Donaghy pay the NBA nearly $1.4 million in restitution as part of the sentence in his gambling case. The amount covers everything from hefty legal bills to the cost of Donaghy's basketball shoes.
"The message from the NBA is quite clear: If you cooperate in a federal investigation against the organization, we will take you out," Lauro wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Carol Amon.
Donaghy, 41, pleaded guilty last year to felony charges of taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games himself. He faces up to 33 months in prison at sentencing, set for July 14.
Earlier this month, the case cast a cloud over the NBA finals with fresh accusations that the league routinely encouraged refs to ring up bogus fouls to manipulate results but discouraged them from calling technical fouls on star players to keep them in games and protect ticket sales and television ratings.
The allegations contained in court papers arguing that Donaghy deserved leniency for voluntarily disclosing the alleged corruption include one instance in which referees rigged a 2002 playoff series to force it to a revenue-boosting seven games.
Though the papers didn't name the teams involved, only the Los Angeles-Sacramento series went to seven games during those playoffs. The Lakers went on to win the championship.
NBA commissioner David Stern has called the allegations baseless, saying Donaghy was only "singing" to get a lighter sentence.