James”Jimmy””Bah-Bah””The Sheep” Battista was a stressed-out, obese, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, at the hole to a underground gamblers for amounts he’d kind of lost track of, even when he settled in to watch an NBA game he thought he’d simply put in the correct. It was January 2007. A month or so back, long before Christmas, he’d done something audacious: He’d sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. He feared that the scheme had become overly obvious.
“You wanna get paid?” Battista had said to the ref. “Then you have ta cover the f–ing spread.” The bribe was only two dimes, $2,000 per match — an outrageous bargain. In case the pick won, the ref got his two dimes. In case the choice missed, the ref owed nothing; Battista would consume the reduction. A”free roster,” as they call it. But this referee didn’t lose much. His selections were winning at an 88 percent clip, totally unheard of in sports betting for any sustained time period. They were now entering the first week of the plot — what you could call a sustained time period.
Battista had known the ref, Timmy Donaghy, for 25 decades. They had gone to the exact same parochial high school at the suburban areas of Delaware County, just outside Philadelphia — Delco, since it’s sometimes called — where the sports bars are plentiful, where a particular easy familiarity with forms of gambling prevails, where guys have bookies like they have got dentists.
Battista was a creature of the planet. He was what is called a mover. Strictly speaking, movers are gamblers nor bookmakers. They’re a species of agent that supplies services to sports bettors, putting down wagers in their clients’ benefit with bookmakers of various sorts around the world, legal and not. Battista was positioned well in that world which, without Donaghy’s knowledge but predicated on Donaghy’s picks, he had helped put up a sort of loose, disorderly hedge fund. Several people from the sports-betting underworld had, in effect, staked Battista a basketball — a fund that he was currently using to bet on games officiated with this one NBA referee. One member of this team called it”the ticket” and”the company.”
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