Prosecutors Trying to Block Effort in Donaghy Sentencing

By HOWARD BECK

Published: July 8, 2008

Federal prosecutors are opposing efforts by Tim Donaghy, the disgraced former N.B.A. referee, to have a retired F.B.I. agent testify about Donaghy’s cooperation with the government.

Donaghy’s lawyer, John Lauro, issued a subpoena last week for the former agent, Philip Scala. Lauro argued that Scala would provide critical information that could affect Donaghy’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Monday in United States Federal Court in Brooklyn.

Donaghy has admitted to providing inside information to gamblers and to helping them pick games. He could face up to 25 years in prison, but under federal sentencing guidelines, the term will probably fall in the 33-month range.

Judge Carol B. Amon, who is presiding over the case, must decide in the next day whether to have Scala testify during an unrelated hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.

In a letter filed on Friday, the prosecutors said there was no legal basis for Donaghy to subpoena a former government agent. They contended that the court already had sufficient information, provided by both sides, attesting to Donaghy’s cooperation in the case. And they wrote that Scala had indicated to them “that he has nothing more to add” on the subject.

But neither the prosecutors nor Scala have filed a motion to quash the subpoena. Amon could decide the issue Tuesday or wait until Wednesday’s hearing and allow oral arguments. Donaghy is due in court to contest a restitution claim by the N.B.A.

The prosecutors’ stance on Scala prompted a harsh response from Lauro, who, in a letter filed Sunday, accused them of trying to deny the court “complete information about Mr. Donaghy’s extensive cooperation.”

Donaghy has said there was broad misconduct by other referees and by N.B.A. executives, accusing them of manipulating the outcome of games. But none of those allegations have resulted in criminal charges, which has become a point of contention between Lauro and the prosecutors.

In Sunday’s letter, Lauro went a step further, accusing the prosecutors of attempting “to keep this cooperation hidden from” the judge.

Lauro also said that the information Donaghy provided “could have led to additional prosecutions” and concluded that “something is not quite right with the conduct of this case.”