Home > Sports betting > Leaving on a jet plane? Man tied to Porter betting scheme busted at JFK

Leaving on a jet plane? Man tied to Porter betting scheme busted at JFK

| By Jill R. Dorson
Banned NBA player Jontay Porter intentionally removed himself from games as a way to pay back "large gambling debts" according to a complaint filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. One of Porter's "co-conspirators" was arrested on Monday (3 June) and appeared in court the following day.
jontay porter associate arrested

Long Phi Pham, also known as “Bruce,” was ordered held in custody until trial, according to a US Attorney’s Office press release. Per the NY Daily News, Pham was identified as one of the top 1% of poker players in the world at his arraignment on Tuesday.

He was arrested at JFK Airport on Monday after booking a one-way ticket to Australia. Pham is being charged with wire fraud. Pham was carrying about $92,000 in cash and cashier’s cheques, three cell phones and betting slips, according to the complaint.

Three more participants at large

Three other co-conspirators have not yet been arrested. Porter is not named in the complaint, although there is reference to a “Player 1”. The bet dates align with the dates of the key bets that led to Porter’s lifetime ban. The amount of Porter’s gambling debt has not been exposed.

The complaint details the scheme ex-Toronto Raptor Porter and Pham developed so Pham’s prop bets on Porter would pay. As the plan unfolded, Porter warned the group “might just get hit w[ith] a rico” or racketeering charge. He also asked in a group chat if participants had “delete[d] all the stuff” from their phones.

According to the complaint, Pham and his group suggested Porter do a “special” to settle his gambling debt. Porter sent Pham a text message that read: “If I don’t do a special with your terms. Then it’s up. And u hate me and if I don’t get u 8k by Friday you’re coming to Toronto to beat me up.”

Porter feigned injury, illness to settle gambling debt

According to the US Attorney’s press release, Porter was “encouraged to clear those (gambling) debts by withdrawing from certain games prematurely to ensure that under prop bets on Player 1’s performance were successful.” Between January and March of 2024, Porter twice removed himself from games.

On 26 January, Porter claimed he reaggravated a corneal injury and took himself out of a game against the LA Clippers. He played four minutes and had no points, three rebounds and one assist. Two bets placed by co-conspirators from that game cashed. One was for $10,000 and paid $85,000, while the other was for $7,000 and paid $40,250. Both were parlays.

On 20 March, Pham and his partners met in Atlantic City and placed “under” bets on Porter’s performance against Sacramento. Prior to placing the bets, the group agreed in a text chat that Porter would feign illness and take himself out of the game. Pham and his partners agreed to share the profits. Pham and Porter would each get a 24% cut. Porter removed himself from the game after three minutes. He scored no points and had three rebounds and no assists. Pham and his partners won more than $1m on the bets.

DraftKings reported suspicious activity

DraftKings isn’t directly named in the complaint, but was previously identified as the sportsbook that reported suspicious activity to the NBA. The company reported unusual activity to the league after the 26 January game and also after the 20 March game. The NBA issued Porter a lifetime ban less than a month after the second suspicious report.

According to the affidavit, bets were placed at two sportsbooks that are “co-official sports betting partners of the NBA.” DraftKings and FanDuel are partnered with the league.

“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters,” US Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “As alleged, the defendant and his co-conspirators, as well as an NBA player, participated in a brazen, illegal betting scheme that had a corrupting influence on two games and numerous bets.”

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