Lawyer: Jontay Porter was ‘in over his head’ with gambling addiction

Jontay Porter, the former Toronto Raptors forward who was banned for life from the NBA over a sports betting scandal, was “in over his head” with a gambling addiction, his lawyer said Friday.

Jeff Jensen, a government investigations attorney in St. Louis. Louis, also said in a statement that Porter is cooperating with investigators.

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith who will get through this. He was in over his head with a gambling addiction. He is being treated and has been fully cooperative with law enforcement,” Jensen said. It was his first statement since a league investigation found Porter disclosed confidential information to sports bettors and placed bets on games, including bets on the Raptors losing.

Also on Friday, a fourth person was arrested in the scandal after Ammar Awawdeh, 32, surrendered following the arrests of three co-defendants earlier this week.

A lawsuit accuses Awawdeh of pressuring an NBA athlete, identified only as “Player 1,” to settle gambling debts by leaving games early. The tactic, which the two called a “special,” would guarantee a payout to anyone betting that he would not perform in those games, according to the document.

Using an encrypted messaging app, Awawdeh wrote earlier this year that he was “forcing” the player to do it and told him to “Screenshot this,” the complaint said.

Awawdeh, who helps run corner stores in New York City, was arraigned and released on $100,000 bond under house arrest with ankle monitoring. His attorney, Alan Gerson, declined to comment on the allegations.

Porter is not charged in the case or named in the complaint. But details about Player 1 match those in an NBA investigation that resulted in his lifetime ban in April. The league found that he bet on NBA games in which he did not play and withdrew from at least one, so that one bet paid more than $1 million to a tipped bettor.

Awawdeh and his co-defendants Timothy McCormack, Mahmud Mollah and Long Phi Pham used advance knowledge of Player 1’s plans so that they or their relatives could place profitable bets on his performance in the January 26 and 20 in March, according to the complaint.

Porter played only briefly in those dates before leaving the court complaining of injury or illness.

According to the complaint, a betting company ultimately barred Mollah from collecting most of his winnings of more than $1 million in the March 20 game.

The defendants, who are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, have not entered pleas. Their attorneys have declined to comment, except for McCormack’s attorney, Jeffrey Chartier, who said “no case is a slam dunk.”

Reporting by the Associated Press.

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