Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family
The allegedly dirty NBA referee who's set to sing in a mob point-shaving scandal sought police protection yesterday -- after receiving threats that he could be whacked, cops said.
Three Manatee County Sheriff's squad cars screeched up to the Bradenton, Fla., home of terrified former NBA official Tim Donaghy to investigate menacing telephone calls against him. "Our concern is for his safety and his family's safety," said Sheriff's Lt. Robert Mealy. "We are definitely going to share any information we get with the FBI."
The rogue ref's family is even urging him to enter the federal witness-protection program, one friend said. "They think he will be killed if he goes to prison, or even if he doesn't, just because he's probably talking, cooperating, and that's ratting on the mob," the pal said. "I don't think [the Mafia] would take that very well.
"[Relatives] are very concerned for his safety," the friend added. "I think they knew something serious was going on, but not like this, not this big, whole life-or-death issue with the Mafia. I mean, it's the Gambinos."
Mealy declined to reveal more details of the threats against Donaghy, who is being investigated by federal authorities for allegedly working with mobsters tied to the Gambino crime family to fix the scores of NBA games to pay off his gambling debts.
The disgraced ref is said to be set to spill all - threatening to bring down anyone and everyone with him, sources said. He'll be naming names of other refs, coaches, players and game "validators," who sit unobtrusively in the stands to review calls on the court, the source said.
"There are other allegations of gambling that the FBI will run down," based on Donaghy's talk so far, one source said. "Everybody's pointing a finger at everyone else."
Donaghy's name came to the attention of feds during wiretap probes of Gambino mobsters. Yesterday, "he received some threatening phone calls, and he wanted them documented," Mealy said. "I know Mr. Donaghy was concerned."
Donaghy, 40, resigned from the NBA shortly after this past season amid then-undisclosed allegations that he bet on games he officiated. Feds have not yet revealed which games they are probing.
Several friends in Cape May, N.J., where his parents summer, said Donaghy's co-workers grew suspicious of his behavior about three years ago, when he would offer to trade free tickets to certain games with some refs in exchange for others - and then suddenly renege.
"He just started screwing them," one friend said. "Tickets started going missing, misplaced . . . It was no longer, 'Hey, Tim's kind of an a- - hole.' It became, 'Tim is f- - - ing with the NBA.' And that's when they stopped trusting him completely."
Retired dentist John Minutella of West Chester, Pa., where Donaghy grew up and worked at a golf course, recounted a horrific prank Donaghy pulled on him 10 years ago, when the embattled ref put a dead bird in his golf bag. Minutella found the maggot-infested carcass 24 hours later. "Nobody wanted to play golf with him," said Minutella, 64. " I can't say one nice thing about him. I believe this guy was almost soulless."
Thanks to James Fanelli
Monday, July 23, 2007
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