Brooklyn man arrested for illegal NBA betting scheme involving banned Jontay Porter

Jontay Porter Raptors
Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter, right, pulls in a rebound as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, defends in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 11, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday charging local resident Long Phi Pham with conspiring with others to defraud a sports betting company.

The 38-year-old Pham worked alongside three co-conspirators who remain at large with former Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter, who was banned for life by the NBA last month for violating league rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, to place “under prop bets” on the forward in games on Jan. 26 and March 20 of this year. 

Porter’s name was not specifically listed in the release by the US Department of Justice, but the dates listed in the complaint directly coincide with the incidents that ultimately led to Porter’s banishment from the NBA.

Having amassed large gambling debts to some of Pham’s co-conspirators, Porter was encouraged to clear his debts by exiting certain games early to guarantee certain under-prop bets were hit.

On Jan. 22, Porter suffered an eye injury that was diagnosed as corneal abrasion but was not placed on the NBA’s official injury list. Before the Raptors’ game on Jan. 26 against the Los Angeles Clippers, Porter told Pham and the co-conspirators that he would remove himself from the game early and claim that he was injured. He played just four minutes and recorded zero points with three rebounds and one assist. 

It allowed a relative of one co-conspirator to parlay a $10,000 bet into $85,000. Another co-conspirator won $40,250 on a $7,000 bet. 

Prior to Toronto’s March 20 against the Sacramento Kings, Porter disclosed to Pham and the co-conspirators that he would exit early feigning an illness. He did so after just three minutes of play in which he didn’t record a point or an assist while posting three rebounds. The parties involved agreed to split the profits, which totaled over $1 million, including a 24% cut for Pham.

A group chat obtained by the US Attorney of the Eastern District of New York from April 4 included concerns about picking up racketeering charges and that all participants had to delete any evidence.

Pham was arrested on Monday and made his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak. Pham was ordered detained pending trial. 

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrest and charge.

“Whether on the court or in the casino, every point matters. 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,” United States Attorney Peace said. “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.”

If convicted, Pham faces up to 20 years in prison. The case is being handled on the government’s behalf by the Office’s Business and Securities Fraud Section and General Crimes Sections. Assistant US Attorneys Kaitlin Farrell, Benjamin L. Weintraub, and David Berman will oversee the prosecution.

For more on Jontay Porter and the NBA, visit AMNY.com