NEW YORK – A long-awaited independent report on the actions of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy concluded on Thursday that the convicted ref was the sole culprit in an illicit betting scandal. But investigators did not see all the phone records that led federal officials to suspect that the scandal spread beyond Donaghy, FOXNews.com has learned.
The crooked ref's repeated phone calls to a second referee were reported on FOXNews.com on July 14.
The 133-page report on the 14-month investigation, which was headed by former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz, calls for the creation of a "culture of compliance" and closer monitoring of games for suspicious activity. The report shows that the league's investigators conducted more than 200 interviews with referees and team and league personnel.
The report details several facts that were included in FOXNew.com's exclusive findings:
• Donaghy placed 134 calls to a second referee, Scott Foster, between October 2006 and April 2007;
• Many of these calls lasted no longer than two minutes;
• Many of these calls were placed in the hours before or after games; and on a few days, Donaghy's calls to Foster were close in time to calls Donaghy made to Thomas Martino, the "middleman" who passed along the referee's betting picks to professional gamblers. Martino was sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in Donaghy's scheme.
But in coming to its conclusions, the investigators neglected to obtain a complete set of Donaghy's phone records.
During the course of the 2006-2007 season, court documents and phone records obtained by FOXNews.com show Donaghy placed 134 calls to Foster, 10 times more calls than made to any other referee.
To address why so many short calls could show up on the records, the report stated: "Foster told us that he frequently calls other referees and either hangs up when the call goes to voicemail or leaves a short voicemail message, and that other referees do the same when calling Foster."
The report stated that Foster's cell phone service provides records of all the calls that were dialed, regardless of whether the calls were actually answered — meaning it's impossible to tell if Donaghy actually spoke to Foster when he called or if Donaghy just left numerous voice messages. "If the phone rings five or six times and the caller then leaves a message, it is likely that the call will last over one minute and will be recorded as a two-minute call," the report stated.
But law enforcement sources close to the case say told FOXNews.com that this isn't true — these calls did not go to voicemail. They said Foster answered the phone when Donaghy called.
The Pedowitz report also found that referees broke league rules involving casino gambling, but none of their activities reached the criminal level.
In a conference call with the media Thursday afternoon, NBA commissioner David Stern said, "On the first day we met with the FBI they told us that Donaghy was the only one they had illegal activity concern with, but they did say there were referees that were violating our rule that they had that information as well from Donaghy. I think the Pedowitz report confirms both of those points."
But sources told FOXNews.com that the FBI never told the NBA that Donaghy was the only referee involved in criminal activity. In fact, at the time of this first meeting with Stern, sources said, the FBI was investigating multiple referees, all of whom appeared in Donaghy's phone records.
Donaghy's attorney, John Lauro, called Stern's comments and the Pedowitz report itself "ridiculous."
"I think this is a joke," Lauro told FOXNews.com. "It ignores all the issues. It is a public relations piece — this was an attempt by the league to put a nice bow on this, to separate Tim from everyone else."
He said it's preposterous to think that referees would admit to wrongdoing. "What referee is going to concede and admit to company lawyers that they did anything wrong?" Lauro asked. "What Stern has ignored is maybe what these same referees have told the FBI. Larry Pedowitz was brought in to basically corroborate David Stern's PR position. What a joke."
Donaghy has alleged that league officials ordered referees to manipulate the outcome of certain games. The ex-ref was sentenced to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to using inside information to give winning picks to professional gamblers, who paid him when he picked correctly. He is currently in a minimum-security federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla.
Lauro said the report completely ignored his client's accusations of widespread corruption and game manipulation within the league.
"The only investigation that really matters is what the FBI did, and that investigation corroborated and substantiated," he said, adding that if the government thought Donaghy was lying it wouldn't have recommended a reduced sentence, which it did.
"Any fan will read this report and just chuckle," Lauro said. "The fans are not ignorant."
The report made some recommendations to the league, such as to create a tip hotline on gambling and game integrity issues, and to provide greater access to referees for both fans and media.