New Yorker Arrested in NBA Betting Case Was Trying to Flee to Australia

Posted on: June 5, 2024, 08:40h. 

Last updated on: June 5, 2024, 10:01h.

A Brooklyn man suspected of involvement in the Jontay Porter NBA betting scandal was arrested at JFK International Airport Monday as he prepared to board a one-way flight to Australia.

Jontay Porter, Long Phi Pham, Toronto Raptors, spot-fixing, match-fixing
Prosecutors believe that Jontay Porter, above right, ran up large gambling debts with Long Phi Pham and his co-conspirators, which led to the athlete agreeing to spot-fix as a way of paying them off. (Image: AP)

On Tuesday, Long Phi Pham, 38, was charged with conspiring to defraud a sports betting company through wagers, according to Reuters.

Pham and others are alleged to have made more than $1 million by betting the “under” on Porter’s performances for the Toronto Raptors while party to insider information.

Porter was a power forward for the Raptors until he was banned from the NBA for life in April. He’s the first player to be kicked out of the league for gambling since Jack Molinas, a key figure in one of basketball’s most notorious points-shaving scandals, in 1954.

Sportsbooks Tipoff

The NBA began its investigation in March after receiving notice from sportsbooks of suspicious betting patterns surrounding two games featuring Porter. These were a January 26 loss to the LA Clippers and a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings, again a loss for the Raptors.

Porter exited early in both games. He played four minutes of the Clippers game after a reoccurrence of an existing eye injury, and just three minutes of the Kings game after complaining of feeling ill.

Pham, as well as three other conspirators who are still at large, were in contact with Porter before betting on the games. They placed $80K at an unnamed Atlantic City casino on the athlete underperforming in the Kings game, winning $1.1 million, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors allege that Porter owed the co-conspirators large gambling debts and agreed to the scheme as a means of paying them off.

‘Hit with a RICO’

In a Telegram chat group on April 4, the day he received the NBA ban, Porter told Pham and others that they “might just get hit w a rico” – a reference to federal anti-racketeering charges. He told them to delete their cell phone records.

The NBA investigation found Porter had also placed at least 13 bets on games using a friend’s sportsbook account. These included at least one bet on the Raptors to lose.

Pham was carrying $12K in cash, $80K in cashier’s checks, betting slips, and three cell phones when he was arrested at JFK. He faces federal wire fraud charges that come with up to 20 years in prison.

US Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak ordered Pham detained at a hearing Tuesday.