James”Jimmy””Bah-Bah””The Sheep” Battista was a stressed-out, overweight, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, in the hole to some underground gamblers for amounts he had sort of lost track of, when he settled in to watch an NBA game for which he thought he would simply put in the correct. It was January 2007. A month or so back, not long before Christmas, he’d done something audacious: He’d sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. He feared the scheme had become too obvious.
“You wanna get paid?” Battista had said to the ref. “Then you have ta pay the f–ing spread.” The bribe was two dimes, $2,000 per game — an outrageous deal. In case the choice won, the ref got his two dimes. In case the pick missed, the ref owed nothing; Battista would eat the reduction. A”free roll,” as they call it. However, this referee did not lose much. His picks were winning at an 88% clip, totally unheard of sports betting for any sustained time period. They were now entering the sixth week of the plot — what you could call a sustained time period.
Battista had known the ref, Timmy Donaghy, for 25 years. They had gone to the exact same parochial high school in the suburban areas of Delaware County, just outside Philadelphia — Delco, as it’s sometimes called — where the sports bars are plentiful, where a certain easy familiarity with forms of betting prevails, where guys have bookies like they’ve got dentists.
Battista was a monster of the world. He was what’s called a mover. Strictly speaking, movers are neither gamblers nor bookmakers. They are a species of broker that supplies solutions to sports bettors, laying down wagers in their clients’ behalf with bookmakers of various types around the world, lawful and not. Battista was set well enough in that world which, without Donaghy’s knowledge but based on Donaghy’s selections, he’d helped put up a kind of loose, disorderly hedge fund. Several people from the sports-betting underworld had, in effect, staked Battista a basketball — a finance he was currently having to bet on games officiated by this one NBA referee. 1 member of the team called it”the ticket” and”the company.”