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Friday, June 21, 2024

Conspirator Arrested in Federal Complaint Tied to Jontay Porter Scheme

  • Authorities arrested Long Phi Pham, who goes by Bruce, at JFK airport Monday.
  • Federal prosecutors allege Porter accumulated gambling debts early in the year to Pham and his crew.
Mar 11, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter (34) reacts after a play in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jontay Porter isn’t out of the woods yet. 

The Raptors forward who was banned from the NBA in April for betting on games, is part of a broader illegal betting scheme that led to the arrest of a Brooklyn man at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he attempted to flee the country. 

Authorities arrested Long Phi Pham, who goes by Bruce, at the airport Monday as he tried to board a one-way flight to Australia, the criminal complaint said. He was detained Tuesday, pending trial on a charge of conspiracy to defraud a sports betting company. Three other suspects in the case remain at large. It’s unclear whether prosecutors are investigating Porter, too. 

Federal prosecutors allege Porter accumulated gambling debts early in the year to Pham and his crew and was encouraged to pay them back by ensuring the under hit on his individual player prop bets. 

The news came the same day MLB banned Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for betting on baseball and Ippei Mizuhara pleaded guilty to stealing $17 million from Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani to cover illegal gambling debts.  

According to federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, Pham knew Porter planned to exit a January game against the Clippers early and placed bets on his performance accordingly. Prosecutors added that Porter told Pham before the game that he would exit early claiming an injury. The result was that a co-conspirator in the case won $40,250 off his bets on Porter. 

A similar process unfolded before a Raptors game against the Kings in March. According to the complaint, Pham and his co-conspirators discussed in a Telegram chat that Porter would exit the game early claiming illness. Pham and his co-conspirators went to an Atlantic City casino and placed bets on Porter, who removed himself from the game after playing three minutes. Pham and his group netted more than $1 million in profits off Porter bets according to the United States Attorneys’ Office. 

“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters,” United States 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. This prosecution serves as a warning that fraud and dishonesty in professional sports will not be tolerated and those who engage in this flagrant flouting of the law will be prosecuted.”

Almost two weeks before the NBA banished him, Porter alerted Pham and his crew about a potential case coming their way. On April 4, in a group chat with Porter and the conspirators, Porter told the group that they “might just get hit [with] a rico,” referring to a racketeering charge and asked the group whether they had deleted evidence off their cellphones, according to the complaint. 

Pham tried to leave the country after the government tried to question him Sunday. The complaint said he was arrested with a bag that contained $12,000 in cash, two cashier’s checks worth $80,000, and several betting slips. 

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