An itch is an itch for a reason; no matter how much you try to scratch it off, it just keeps on coming back.
Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is back up to his old tricks again, only this time, he’s doing it in a slightly different manner. The ex-referee who was banished from the NBA and sentenced to 13 months in prison for pleading guilty to federal gambling and wire-fraud charges is now working as a sports handicapper for Danny Barrelli, a fellow capper who also happens to be the proprietor of sportsconnectionwins.com, a tout site for all intents and purposes.
The problem here lies in Donaghy’s probation, which specifically prohibits him from associating with known felons. “Danny B” – or Daniel T. Biancullo in real life – was convicted in 2004 for his involvement in a Florida sports-gambling operation.
Something doesn’t add up here, but if you ask Donaghy, he believes that he’s in the clear on this one.
“It’s basically a consulting firm,” Donaghy says, as quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Donaghy also professed ignorance of Biancullo’s past records, claiming that he only found out about it after the Daily News divulged the information. Biancullo admits that “Berrelli” has been a stage name he has used for years, attributing stage names as being “part of the business”.
Donaghy also defended Biancullo when the matter was brought up to him, saying “as long as it wasn’t molesting kids”, he’s “nobody to judge anyone.”
Apparently, not everyone is buying into that explanation.
The ex-referee’s probation officer, Steve Beasely, is currently investigating the situation. The Deputy Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Middle District of Florida notes that their office pled guilty eight years ago from charges that included lying about inside information about games and referring callers to offshore casinos in exchange for kickbacks. Beasely was sentenced to six months of home detention and three years of probation.
Despite all the evidence that points to Donaghy violating his probation, he remains steadfast in his belief that he’s on the clear on this one, even saying that he got approval from his probation officer after the latter had him evaluated by a psychiatrist, who then proceeded to give the go-signal for his new employment. “He said it was a way I was going to provide a living for my family,” said Donaghy.
“Trust me, there’s nothing legally wrong with it. I went through my probation officer to get approval.”
The irony in all of this is that whatever Donaghy is making from his new gig – Biancullo says its around $50,000 a year – it’s money generated from something that got him in trouble in the first place – betting on basketball – and to compound it all, he’s working for somebody who doesn’t have the rosiest of records to begin with.
No matter how Tim Donaghy or Dan Biancullo try to spin it, you can’t help but wonder if there’s going to be a long-term partnership in their future. Not after you take into account the kind of work it is for somebody who probably needs to stay as far away from any form of gambling as he can.
He can say whatever he wants about it being different, but like we said, once that itch comes back, it’s going to be pretty hard not to scratch it.