Ex-NBA Ref Tim Donaghy's Personal Foul

60 Minutes: Disgraced Ref Talks About Betting Scandal, The Mob, And How He Got Caught

Donaghy said Mathis is a man he respects, and that he agrees with his assessment that his actions were "reprehensible."

"Did you feel that you were doing something wrong?" Simon asked.

"Sure," Donaghy said. "But obviously it was it was easy and it was exciting. And I actually didn't realize the consequences of my actions."

"You didn't know that you were doing something that could get you into trouble?" Simon asked.

"Obviously it was in the back of my head. But I think you just go with the notion that you're not gonna be caught," Donaghy said.

Asked if he thought he could get away with it, Donaghy said, "Yes."

And Donaghy might well have gotten away with it. He might still be reffing and betting today. But he fell in with the mob.

Donaghy was placing those bets through a friend. He was too scared of getting caught to do it himself. And their winning streak went on uninterrupted for three years. But in the fourth year, that friend let slip that he was getting his betting tips from an NBA ref.

The mob found out about it and wanted in on the action. That's when Donaghy discovered what it means to be really scared.

It started outside a hotel at Philadelphia's airport: the FBI says two men associated with the Gambino crime family requested a meeting with Donaghy and took him for a ride.

"They came down and picked me up," Donaghy remembered. "They basically told me that I needed to give them the picks. And if I didn't that it's a possibility that somebody would go down and visit my wife and kids in Florida."

Donaghy said he believed them and was scared. From then on his picks were relayed to the mob.

Asked how he communicated his bets to the mob, Donaghy said, "I would discuss it with a high school friend of mine, who would pass the information along to them."

There was a code. "The code was if I want them to be the home team, I would discuss his brother Chuck. And if I wanted him to bet the visiting team, I would mention his brother Johnny," Donaghy explained.

FBI Special Agent Scala told Simon the FBI made a very conservative estimate that the mob made at least a few million dollars off Donaghy's picks.

Donaghy said the mob was paying him $2,000 per correct pick - peanuts considering they were making millions.

Asked why he didn't ask for more money, Donaghy said, "It wasn't about the money, at that point… It was just about getting through the season and hoping that'd end it."

Because the mob put a lot of money on his picks, they were not good losers. We told you that in one game, Donaghy threw out the coach of the team they were betting on. That cost the mob the bet and they were not happy.

"They had questions as to why I did it," Donaghy remembered. "I just told them that I wasn't making calls in games to win, influence the outcome. And no I'm not gonna be able to obviously predict the winner every night. And you know, they have to accept that that's what's gonna happen."

Asked if the mobsters accepted that, Donaghy told Simon, "I'm not sure that they accepted it or not, but that was the information that I passed to them."

As it turned out, his mob connection brought him down.