Lawyer in NBA betting case won’t say whether client knows now-banned Jontay Porter

NEW YORK — A defense lawyer declined to comment Wednesday on the case against a New York man charged in a sports betting scandal that cost former NBA player Jontay Porter his career.

The attorney, Michael Soshnick, also wouldn’t say whether his client, Long Phi Pham, knows the former Toronto Raptors forward who was banned from the NBA in April. A league investigation found that he tipped off bettors about his health and then claimed illness to exit at least one game and make some wagers pay out. Porter also placed his own bets on NBA games in which he didn’t play, the league said.

Pham and three co-defendants, whose names are redacted in a Brooklyn federal court complaint, are charged with conspiring to defraud a sports betting company.

The complaint says they placed wagers based on information from an NBA athlete — identified in the complaint only as “Player 1” — about his plans to claim illness or injury to limit his participation in two games. The alleged conspirators wagered that the player would fall short of expectations for his performance, and they won when he exited the games after only a few minutes, according to the complaint.

The game dates and other details match those cited in the NBA’s investigation into Porter, and the complaint quotes from an NBA press release about it.

Porter didn’t comment on the NBA’s findings when they were released. Current contact information could not immediately be found for Porter or any agent or other representative he may have. Prosecutors have declined to say whether they are investigating him.

Pham, who also uses the first name Bruce, is a professional poker player, according to his attorney. Authorities said Pham was arrested Monday as the 38-year-old Brooklyn resident was getting on a flight to Australia with about $12,000 in cash.

His lawyer said it was a planned trip to a poker tournament, but prosecutors portrayed it as an attempt to flee the U.S. after Pham learned of their investigation days before.

“We’ll see if they pick me up at the airport when I try to leave the country,” he texted an acquaintance, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Weintraub. He argued Wednesday against granting Pham any bail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak agreed to release him to home detention on $750,000 bond, with an ankle monitor, four relatives and a friend signing the bond and two putting up homes, among other conditions.

But, Pollak mused, “I’m sitting here today with very serious doubts about whether I’m making a big mistake.”

Pham remains in custody until at least Thursday while paperwork and other procedural steps are finalized.

“My client will abide by each and every condition of his release,” Soshnick said outside court.

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