James »Jimmy » »Bah-Bah » »The Sheep » Battista was a stressed-out, obese, Oxy-addicted 41-year-old, in the pit to a underground gamblers for sums he had sort of lost track of, when he settled in to watch an NBA game for which he believed he would just put in the fix. It was January 2007. A month or so back, not long before Christmas, he’d done something audacious: He had sat down and cut a deal with an NBA referee. He feared the scheme had become too obvious.
« You wanna get paid? » Battista had stated to the ref. « Then you have ta pay the f–ing spread. » The bribe was only two dimes, $2,000 per match — an outrageous deal. In case the choice won, the ref got his two dimes. In case the pick missed, the ref owed nothing; Battista would eat the loss. A »free roll, » as they call it. However, this referee didn’t lose much. His picks were winning in an 88 percent clip, totally unheard of in sports gambling for any sustained time period. They were now entering the first week of this plot — what you might call a sustained period of time.
Battista had understood the ref, Timmy Donaghy, for 25 years. They’d gone to the same parochial high school at the working-class Catholic areas of Delaware County, just outside Philadelphia — Delco, as it is sometimes called — where the sports pubs are abundant, where a particular easy familiarity with all forms of gambling prevails, where guys have bookies like they’ve got dentists.
Battista was a creature of the world. He was what is known as a mover. Strictly speaking, movers are gamblers nor bookmakers. They’re a species of agent that provides services to sports bettors, laying down wagers in their customers’ behalf with bookmakers of various types around the world, lawful and not. Battista was positioned well in that world which, without Donaghy’s understanding but predicated on Donaghy’s picks, he’d helped put up a sort of loose, disorderly hedge fund. Several people from the sports-betting underworld had, in consequence, staked Battista a basketball — a finance that he was now having to bet on games officiated by this one NBA referee. 1 member of the team called it »the ticket » and »the company. »
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