Lawyer: Banned NBA Player Jontay Porter Was ‘In Over His Head Due to Gambling Addiction'

St. Louis attorney Jeff Jensen told the Associated Press that a gambling addiction ultimately led to Jontay Porter's involvement in his betting scheme and eventual ban from the NBA.

Brad Senkiw - News Editorat
Brad Senkiw • News Editor
Jun 11, 2024 • 17:40 ET • 4 min read
Jontay Porter Toronto Raptors NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

A gambling addiction led to former NBA player Jontay Porter’s role in a betting scheme and eventual ban from the league, according to his lawyer.

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this,” St. Louis attorney Jeff Jensen told the Associated Press last week. 

He was in over his head due to a gambling addiction. He is undergoing treatment and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement. 

This is the first statement from his attorney since the former Toronto Raptors center received a lifetime ban after a league investigation found that Porter wagered on NBA and Raptors games, provided information to bettors, and manipulated his playing time. 

Porter was named “Player 1” in a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI last week that charged Long Phi Pham, Timothy McCormack, Mahmud Mollah, and Ammar Awawdeh with wire fraud. All four have been arrested.

Porter is not listed as a defendant and has not been federally charged.

Man behind the scheme

Porter provided information to the four co-conspirators through the messaging app Telegram on when he would manipulate playing time through injury and illness during games on Jan. 26 and March 20 so the group and their relatives could wager the Under on his player prop markets.

The complaint alleges that Awawdeh forced the NBA player to leave games early for Porter to get out of gambling debts, and anyone in the group would be guaranteed to win. 

According to the document, Mollah won more than $1 million on the March 20 game that was supposed to be shared with the other co-conspirators, but the sports betting company stopped him from collecting the payout. Mollah cashed $33,000 from the Jan. 26 game. 

McCormack allegedly made nearly $70,000 from the betting scheme. A relative of one of the co-conspirators informed of the betting scheme netted $75,000 from the Jan. 26 game. 

No pleas

The four co-conspirators have not entered pleas for the fraud charges. Awawdeh, 32, was the last of the group to be apprehended. He was arraigned and released on a $100,000 bond to ankle-monitoring home detention last Friday.  

Pham, the first to be arrested, was taken into custody on June 3 at JFK Airport in what appeared to be an attempt to flee the country. He had a one-way ticket to Australia, bags with $12,000 cash, and two cashier's checks worth $80,000. 

Pham was released to home detention on a $750,000 bond. McCormack and Molla were given $50,000 bonds at their arreignments last week.

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