NBA-Brooklyn man linked to banned NBA player is charged with gambling fraud conspiracy

By Thomson Reuters Jun 4, 2024 | 5:30 PM

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Brooklyn man has been charged with conspiring to defraud a sports betting company through wagers involving former Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter, who the National Basketball Association recently banned for violating its gambling policy.

Long Phi Pham, 38, and others allegedly placed “prop” bets, which are wagers based on players’ performance, on two NBA games where they had been tipped that Porter would withdraw early for purported health reasons. Three co-conspirators remain at large.

A lawyer for Pham did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Court papers did not identify Porter by name, calling him “Player 1,” but contained many known accusations against him, and quote heavily from an April 17 NBA press release announcing his ban, including for placing 13 bets on league games.

The league said three bets were multi-game parlay bets that included one game where Porter bet the Raptors would lose.

Porter played just four minutes in a Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers before complaining of an aggravated eye injury, and three minutes in a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings before claiming he was ill.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn said Pham, also known as Bruce, and co-conspirators made more than $1 million on the games by betting the “under,” that Porter would not hit specified statistical targets.

The prosecutors also said Porter told Pham and others in an April 4 group chat they “might just get hit w a rico,” alluding to anti-racketeering laws, and asked if they had deleted cellphone content.

Prosecutors said Pham was arrested on Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he prepared to fly to Australia on a one-way ticket, while possessing $12,000 in cash, $80,000 in cashier’s checks, betting slips and three cellphones.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak ordered Pham detained at a hearing on Tuesday.

The charges were announced the same day Major League Baseball banned San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for life after he made 387 bets in 2022 and 2023 on baseball games, including Pittsburgh Pirates games when he was with that team.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Jamie Freed)