Ex-referee Tim Donaghy tossed the ball back to the NBA Monday as the court battle heated up over restitution owed by the veteran ref who admitted he bet on games he officiated.
The NBA is seeking nearly $1.4 million in restitution - including $750 worth of black Nike sneakers worn by Donaghy during the seasons he engaged in criminal gambling activities.
In court papers filed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn, Donaghy's attorney John Lauro questioned the claimed expenses including legal fees the NBA argues it incurred during its internal investigation into Donaghy's conduct and the activities of other referees stemming from the scandal.
He is demanding the disclosure of precise legal services provided by the NBA's lawyers.
Lauro charged that the NBA is making inflated restitution demands in retaliation for Donaghy's public revelation of allegations of misconduct by other referees and league officials he provided to federal investigators.
Lauro argued that the NBA did not seek restitution against Donaghy until his allegations were publicly aired.
"…the NBA became angry that information about Organization practices became public during the playoff season and it retaliated by seeking to destroy Mr. Donaghy financially and to leave his family (including four young daughters) destitute,'' Lauro said in court papers.
"The message from the NBA is quite clear: If you cooperate in a federal investigation against the Organization, we will take you out,'' Lauro said.
Lauro's charges were contained in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Carol Amon who is presiding over the case. The letter was in response to the NBA's court request last week to raise its restitution claim from $1 million to $1.39 million.
"By his criminal conduct, Timothy Donaghy has harmed the NBA and caused it to spend vast sums to undo that harm,'' wrote Paul Schectman, an attorney for the NBA.
He accused Donaghy of launching "a public campaign to defame the NBA's referees and its management. He has made unsupported accusations of widespread misconduct, the purpose of which can only be to harm the NBA,'' Schectman said.
In addition to legal fees, the league's claim includes reimbursement for more than 100 hours by employees to review videotapes of games that Donaghy was the referee and a pay back of a percentage of his salary for the 30 to 40 games a season he said he bet on in 2003-04 and 2005-06 seasons.
Donaghy, 41 of Bradenton, Fla. pleaded guilty last year to felony fraud charges admitting that he bet on games he officiated, provided insider information to gamblers and received cash payoffs from them for recommended picks he hit. He faces up to 33 months in prison at sentencing July 14.
The 13-year veteran referee has been cooperating with investigators and has told them that refs were routinely told by league executives not to eject star players from games in order to protect ticket sales and television ratings, according to court papers filed earlier this month.
Donaghy also claimed that the NBA urged them to make phony foul calls to manipulate the outcome of games. He also charged that two ref actually rigged a 2002 playoff series to force it into a revenue-boosting seven games.
By Pat Milton