Jontay Porter's lawyer says the now-banned NBA player was “overwhelmed” by his gambling addiction

Jontay Porter's lawyer says the now-banned NBA player was “overwhelmed” by his gambling addiction


Jontay Porter, the former Toronto Raptors striker who was banned for life by the NBA over a sports betting scandal, is “overwhelmed” by a gambling addiction, his lawyer said Friday.

Jeff Jensen, a St. Louis attorney in charge of state investigations, also said in a statement to the Associated Press that Porter was cooperating with investigators.

“Jontay is a good young man with strong faith that will get him through this. He was overwhelmed by his gambling addiction. He is receiving treatment and is fully cooperating with law enforcement,” Jensen said. It was his first statement since a league investigation found that Porter had shared confidential information with sports bettors and placed bets on games, including a Raptors loss.

Also on Friday, a fourth man was arrested in connection with the scandal: 32-year-old Ammar Awawdeh turned himself in after three co-defendants were arrested earlier this week.

A lawsuit accuses Awawdeh of pressuring an NBA athlete identified only as “Player 1” to pay off his gambling debts by leaving games early. The tactic, which the two called a “special,” guaranteed a payout to anyone who bet on them to underperform in those games, the document says.

Using an encrypted messaging app earlier this year, Awawdeh wrote that he was “coercing” the player and told him to “take a screenshot of this,” the complaint states.

Awawdeh, who works in his family's New York City corner stores, was arraigned and released on $100,000 bail to house arrest with ankle shackles. His attorney, Alan Gerson, declined to comment on the charges.

Porter is not charged in the case and is not named in the lawsuit. But the details about Player 1 match those in an NBA investigation that led to his lifetime ban in April. The league found that he had bet on NBA games he did not play in and withdrew from at least one so that a bet would pay a bettor who had received a tip over $1 million.

Awawdeh and his co-defendants – Timothy McCormack, Mahmud Mollah and Long Phi Pham – used their knowledge of Player 1's plans so they or their relatives could place lucrative bets on his performance in the Jan. 26 and March 20 games, the indictment says.

Porter played only briefly on those days before leaving the field complaining of injury or illness.

A betting company ultimately prevented Mollah from collecting most of his more than $1 million winnings from the March 20 game, the lawsuit says.

The defendants accused of conspiracy to commit fraud have not yet pleaded to the charges. Their lawyers have not commented, except for McCormack's lawyer, Jeffrey Chartier, who said that “no case is a no-brainer.”


Haigh reported from Hartford, Connecticut.