Surrounded by a crush of cameras a stone-faced Donaghy entered federal court in Brooklyn.
Inside, voice cracking, he apologized for his actions saying he brought shame on himself and his family.
Judge Carol Amon appeared to be swayed, not by Donaghy's remorse but rather his complete cooperation with the government. Her surprising sentence: 15 months in prison, considerably less than federal guidelines.
"We're thrilled with the outcome today," said John Lauro, Donaghy's attorney outside the courthouse.
Later, with CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian Lauro said his client could have opened doors to even broader corruption within the NBA - had prosecutors chosen to pursue it.
"At some point, the investigation was shut down, and I also know at that point Tim had provided some very extensive information," said Lauro.
A 13-year veteran, Donaghy admitted to betting on 35 games, including 16 in which he worked, and to taking cash payoffs from childhood friends turned gamblers in exchange for inside information.
From day one NBA Commissioner David Stern downplayed the scandal, calling Donaghy a "rogue isolated criminal." Then last month during the NBA Finals, Donaghy blew the whistle in court papers, alleging "top league executives....sought to manipulate games using referees to boost ticket sales and television ratings."
Stern was incensed, calling it a "desperate attempt" by a "convicted felon" to cut his sentence.
When asked how the NBA treated Donaghy, Lauro said "They tried everything to demonize and isolate him and that was a mistake. This story is not over yet and as a result there may be further investigations."
Results of the NBA's own investigation into gambling are due any day. As for Donaghy, he's due to surrender to prison officials in early October.
By Armen Keteyian