Here is an excerpt from a 36-page letter filed yesterday in Brooklyn, N.Y., by John Lauro, the attorney for disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy:

Tim Donaghy's tragic fall from grace cannot be explained without understanding the psychological demon that he lived with for many years ... Nothing in Tim's background or upbringing would suggest that he would be on the adverse side of a federal indictment. Yet, as so often in life, the perception of reality is far different than the actual circumstances ...

Tim suffers from a pathological gambling condition, which went undetected for many years. The disease caused behavior that contradicted everything about how Tim led his life ... Tim participated in gambling activities involving NBA games, even though he obtained minimal financial gain ...

He accepted responsibility for his actions and provided substantial assistance to the government in connection with the prosecution of other individuals. Prior to entering into a plea agreement, Tim met with federal prosecutors and agents in order to provide crucial information regarding the activities of other individuals who later pled guilty in this matter. He also offered assistance with respect to NBA activities that were of interest to federal law enforcement, but completely unrelated to his gambling activities ...

Besides his cooperation, Tim also obtained treatment for his condition. He participates in regular therapy sessions with a certified gambling counselor. Tim also attends regular Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Without doubt, Tim made significant errors in judgment, but he also tried to right the wrongs of his conduct by assisting the government and seeking treatment for his disorder.