Alleged Jontay Porter conspirator arrested during apparent attempt to flee to Australia

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 09: Jontay Porter #34 of the Toronto Raptors warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on March 09, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Jontay Porter was banned for life from the NBA. His alleged conspirators have bigger problems. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

A Brooklyn man was arrested Monday and charged with conspiring with others, including recently banned NBA player Jontay Porter, to defraud a gambling company, the prosecutors in New York City announced Thursday.

Per the criminal complaint, Long Phi Pham, nicknamed “Bruce,” was apprehended while attempting to board a flight to Australia with a one-way ticket at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He reportedly had $12,000 in cash, two cashier’s checks totaling $80,000, betting slips and three cell phones on his person.

The ticket was reportedly purchased a day after the government attempted to question one of Pham’s three alleged co-conspirators, all of whom remain at large. Their identities are redacted in the criminal complaint.

The DOJ announcement and criminal complain do not identify Porter by name, but the details of the case line up exactly with what led to Porter being banned for life from the NBA. ESPN has also identified Porter as the player involved.

The new information is that Porter had allegedly amassed “significant” gambling debts to one of the defendants, who is accused of encouraging him to clear those debts with a “special” (i.e. taking himself out of a game early to ensure his unders hit).

Among the messages included by prosecutors is Porter telling the defendant “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 subsequently exited a Toronto Raptors game on Jan. 22 with what was diagnosed as a corneal abrasion. Porter allegedly told Pham and his co-conspirators that he would remove himself from a game on Jan. 26, which he did, posting zero points, three rebounds and one assist. He told team officials he had aggravated the corneal abrasion, but a video review showed no contact with Porter’s eyes.

Meanwhile, a relative of one of the defendants allegedly placed $10,000 bet on the under for Porter’s points, assists and steals, the success of which netted them $75,000. Another defendant allegedly bet $7,000 on a parlay of points, assists and rebounds and netted $33,250.

Ahead of another game on March 20, Porter complained of symptoms indicating food poisoning, then allegedly told Pham’s group he would exit the game early. The group allegedly agreed on a profit-sharing set-up in which Porter would receive 24% of the profits.

Pham proceeded to play the game and take himself out after three minutes, while the defendants allegedly placed a series of under bets. Among the bets the DOJ notes, they allegedly put a total of $109,900 and netted a profit of $1,167,625.

If the group followed through on their profit-sharing plan, that windfall would have given Porter $280,230.

At that point, however, the betting companies involved understandably became suspicious and suspended a defendant’s account, then flagged the bets to the NBA and the International Betting Integrity Association, who subsequently turned the matter over to the FBI.

It was a remarkably brazen scheme involving inexplicable amounts of money being bet on a little-known player, which didn’t make it hard to catch.

After the games that would cost him his NBA career, Porter allegedly texted the group “might just get hit w a rico” and asked them if they had “delete[d] all the stuff” from their personal cell phones. “Rico” is a reference to the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act,” which is often used to take down organized crime.

The group was apparently not happy at this point with their money being frozen, as one defendant texted another “I really need you to hound [Betting Company 1]. At least get me back my principle $.” By that point, the NBA had banned Porter.

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