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Friendo
07-30-2008, 07:37 AM
Donaghy aided gamblers.
Questions linger about Donaghy
Ken Berger, Newsday (New York)Comment on this story
NEW YORK - All of this seemed ready for wrapping in such a tidy little gift box Tuesday: Tim Donaghy arranging his surrender to federal marshals barely a year after David Stern stood before a packed news conference to confirm the unthinkable.

The promise that day from Stern was thorough cooperation, full disclosure, and transparency. The man he so boldly branded a "rogue, isolated criminal" was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months in federal prison. The NBA's worst nightmare -- a gambling scandal involving a referee -- was thereby over.

Or was it?

All but for the most troubling little detail that didn't fit inside the neatly wrapped gift box Tuesday. We still don't know -- and may never know -- the full breadth of the scandal.

We can't take John Lauro's word for it. The defense attorney had some nerve to win an improbable victory for his client -- about half the sentence he could have received -- and then stroll onto the sunny courthouse promenade to launch a few more hand grenades toward Olympic Tower.

"From Day 1, the strategy of the NBA was to demonize and ostracize Mr. Donaghy and to ignore the substantial cooperation he provided," Lauro said. " ... I think that the fans of this country will insist that the true story be told at some point."

Bloviation from a gloating lawyer shouldn't offend Stern, who at times during this crisis has been guilty of the same. Of more concern is that one thing hasn't changed from Day 1 of the Donaghy mess: What we don't know is potentially a lot worse than what we do.

This was underscored at 3:03 p.m. Tuesday, when Lawrence Pedowitz released an ominous statement regarding the status of his internal probe commissioned by the NBA. Pedowitz, a former federal prosecutor, said he is "conducting additional interviews" and hopes to "obtain additional information from the government." He offered no ETA on his report.

More interviews? More information? What more could there be?

Despite Donaghy's allegations that other referees were involved, not a single person other than Donaghy and his two co-conspirators has been charged. A law enforcement source told Newsday on Tuesday that the federal probe of NBA gambling essentially is closed.

But what about former ref Hue Hollins saying that federal agents asked him more questions about Dick Bavetta than Donaghy? What about the FOX News report citing 134 phone calls from Donaghy to fellow ref Scott Foster when Donaghy was betting on games?

Neither man has been charged with anything, despite the fact that any information Donaghy gave the feds about them -- or anyone else -- was fully investigated.

"Had there been criminal activity," the law enforcement source said, "I would think we would have heard something about it by now."

What about Donaghy's most sensational allegation -- that a playoff game between the Lakers and Kings in 2002 had been manipulated by other referees? It was reviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, and a person familiar with the probe told Newsday on Tuesday that the matter has been dropped.

"There was nothing to pursue," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It would be stunning if Pedowitz unearthed details that the federal government's fine-toothed comb missed. One thing's for sure: He won't be getting anything from Donaghy, who has no plans to stop by the NBA offices on his way to prison.

Lauro wouldn't confirm or deny it, but you can bet on a Donaghy book hitting the shelves soon. That would be a nifty way to drag the NBA through the muck again and raise the $200,000 in restitution Donaghy owes the league. Plus, the burden of proof in the court of public opinion is far less than in the court of Judge Carol B. Amon.

So we heard Lauro rail against Stern and the NBA on Tuesday and make more vague, unsubstantiated allegations about others -- no one ever has a name -- who supposedly committed crimes. And we are left to wonder if we will ever have all the answers.

"It's a story that has yet to be fully explained," Lauro said. " ... I'm hopeful that one day the truth will be told."

You didn't need a very powerful hooey meter to detect the double talk. In his next breath, Lauro said, "Mr. Donaghy, whatever you can say about him, has always told the truth." If so, what more needs to be told?

Lauro and Donaghy have no right to ask that question. But you do, if you wish. Just don't expect an answer.

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