The judge in the Tim Donaghy gambling case ordered federal prosecutors yesterday to respond by Monday to a request from the ex-NBA referee's lawyer that a letter detailing his client's cooperation with authorities be unsealed.

John Lauro, Donaghy's attorney, filed the petition with U.S. District Court Judge Carol Amon in Brooklyn on May 19.

"We strongly object to the letter being filed under seal," Lauro wrote the judge, without citing his reasons for the request.

The government's letter could include information that showed Donaghy helped prosecutors or information that could be embarrassing to the NBA.

Last week, in a separate letter to the judge, Lauro asked that Donaghy be given probation because he had cooperated with authorities and was undergoing treatment for a gambling problem. He also suggested that his client had told investigators about the gambling activities of other NBA officials.

Donaghy is scheduled to be sentenced July 14 on gambling and wire-fraud charges. He faces up to 25 years in prison but could receive a much softer sentence under federal guidelines.

He admitted providing information to two high school friends, who then used it to bet on many NBA games, including some Donaghy, a 13-year NBA referee, officiated. When the friends won their bets, Donaghy was paid.