Where is Tim Donaghy today? His surprising new profession

Tim Donaghy

Tim Donaghy, the man at the center of the NBA’s 2007 gambling scandal, tells his story in Netflix’s Untold: Operation Flagrant Foul. “I love the game of basketball,” Donaghy says. “Growing up, it’s all I did, all I dreamt of, and all I wanted to be a part of. Man did I fuck my life up.”

As the NBA barred referees from placing bets, Donaghy provided tips on games to professional gamblers for money. The FBI found that Tim didn’t compromise his officiating, but doubts still linger about that conclusion. 

A jury found Tim guilty of illegal gambling and wire fraud, sending him to federal prison for 15 months and ending his association with a game he claims to love. 

Donaghy made his debut as a pro wrestling referee in early 2021

Donaghy’s officiating days in the NBA are long gone, but pro wrestling sees his skills and notoriety as valuable. Tim made his debut as a professional wrestling referee in January 2021, officiating a Major League Wrestling match between Savio Vega and Richard Holliday. 

To win the match, either player had to be the first to touch the four turnbuckles in the ring. Playing the role of a crooked referee, Tim blocked Savio from touching the final turnbuckle. The block allowed Holliday to steal the win. 

“Pro wrestling is entertainment, and I always joked the NBA was a form of entertainment and I compared it a little bit to pro wrestling behind the scenes,” Donaghy told Sports Illustrated in October 2020. He added:

“When I was growing up, I always enjoyed pro wrestling, guys like Hulk Hogan and Ivan Putski. I thought it would be fun to get involved and see where it goes.”

Donaghy enjoyed his debut and predicted people would enjoy watching the match. “I think people are going to find it entertaining,” Tim told Sports Illustrated after his debut. “I was a little out of my comfort zone, but I think it went well.”

Tim was arrested in 2019 for threatening a person with a hammer.

In December 2017, Tim Donaghy was arrested in Florida for threatening a person with a hammer. ESPN reported that Tim went to a house in Bradenton, Florida, looking for his daughter and her friend. 

The police report said Tim thought his daughter was doing drugs at the friend’s house. According to the report, as Donaghy argued with his daughter outside the property, the owner came out to investigate the commotion. 

“Donaghy allegedly wielded the hammer and told the man if he came any closer he was going to hit him with it,” ESPN reported. Donaghy’s attorney told TMZ that Tim was just trying to be a good dad and didn’t assault or threaten anyone. 

Authorities charged Tim with aggravated assault and released him on a $5,000 bond. However, prosecutors in Manatee County, Florida, dropped the charges before Tim’s arraignment in January 2018. 

Dropping the charges before Tim appeared in court left the door open for a future indictment if the prosecutors found new evidence. 

Donaghy’s assault in prison suggested his betting scheme had mob ties

Tim Donaghy could have faced up to nearly three years in prison, but the court sentenced him to 15 months, followed by three years of supervised release. “Without Mr. Donaghy, there was no scheme,” Judge Carol Amon said

Donaghy didn’t have an easy time in prison: he required surgery after being assaulted by a fellow inmate with mob ties. The beating led to questions about Tim’s association with the New York mob. 

The FBI’s investigation into Donaghy hadn’t uncovered mafia connections, but it’s an open secret that the mafia’s heavily involved with illegal bookmaking and gambling. Per Bleacher Report, illegal gambling is ‘one of the mafia’s most profitable endeavors.’

Also, the assault led to questions about the mob’s influence on the results of the NBA. Donaghy didn’t address the mob in the press or in his book, sparking speculation that the mafia simply wanted to ensure he kept quiet. 

The injury Donaghy sustained inadvertently led to his return to prison. Authorities released Tim 11 years into his sentence and placed him in a recovery house in Tampa, Florida, where he would undergo treatment for gambling addiction. 

Donaghy violated the terms of his release by visiting a health club to seek treatment for his knee. Following his arrest, Tim’s lawyers said Donaghy thought it was OK to visit the local health club. “He was supposed to be at work but wasn’t there, he was somewhere else,” Ron Lindback, spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service, said. 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons sent Donaghy back to prison to complete his sentence. In early November 2009, Donaghy left prison in Hernando County after completing his incarceration. 

Donaghy earned $1.3 million after suing the publishers of his book 

Donaghy reportedly made so much money from offering gambling tips that he struggled to hide the cash from his then-wife, Kim. He allegedly earned up to $5,000 for every correct prediction. The judge ordered Donaghy to pay a $500,000 fine and $30,000 in restitution. 

Tim had probably made more than enough from gambling to pay his legal dues but nevertheless decided to capitalize on his notoriety by writing a book. 

Donaghy’s book was initially titled Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA. However, the publication never saw the day of light: the publisher, Triumph Books, canceled the title due to liability concerns. 

VTi-Group, a new publisher, stepped in and released Tim’s book, which he’d renamed Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA

Tim later sued VTi-Group and its owner, Shawna Vercher, claiming they hadn’t paid him. Donaghy succeeded – the court found the respondents liable for breach of contract. The jury also sighted Vercher and her company for tortious interference with business relations, civil theft, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

Donaghy told ESPN that he and his children were pleased with the $1.3 million settlement. “My four daughters are thrilled that the truth surrounding the disappearance of the profits of my book Personal Foul is officially on record,” Tim said. “It was a long wait, but it feels terrific knowing that we prevailed and we are moving forward with the truth on our side.”