Tim Donaghy, the ex-NBA referee serving 15 months for his part in a betting scheme, has told a consultant he hired that he was beaten in prison by an inmate with connections to the New York mob.
Next week, Donaghy, whose sentence at the federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla., is set to expire in October, will enter a halfway house in Tampa, Fla., a process aimed at easing his post-release transition.
Yesterday's news came not from federal prison officials but via a press release from Executive Prison Consultants, a company that serves as an advocate for federal prisoners.
According to that release, Donaghy was injured in a November assault by a fellow inmate "claiming ties to the New York mob." That prisoner beat Donaghy with a heavy object, causing severe knee and leg injuries that will require surgery.
Prison officials did not immediately return phone calls. Asked how the consulting firm learned of the assault on its client, company spokesman Pat Zaranek said, "From him."
"We are also in possession of the various medical reports," Zaranek said. "The medical reports and the particular incident reports cannot yet be released - not until he is released in October. He plans to tell his story via a book that is being written."
Zaranak also told the Associated Press that Donaghy claimed he was told he would be shot in the head and his kneecaps would be broken. The alleged attacker's motives have not been made clear and, according to the company, the prison handled the incident internally.
Donaghy, Zaranak said, was placed in protective status and the other inmate punished.
Donaghy, 42, a graduate of Cardinal O'Hara and Villanova and a 13-year NBA veteran, pleaded guilty in August 2007 to charges that he engaged in wire fraud and transmitted wagering information through interstate commerce.
Two high school friends, Thomas Martino and James Battista, who said they received inside information from Donaghy, also were convicted in the scheme. Donaghy testified against both of them as part of his plea agreement.
If Donaghy is suffering from a medical condition as a result of the attack, the release suggested it was possible his sentence could be altered.
"Donaghy's release date has recently been in question due to concerns about his medical condition," according to the statement from Executive Prison Consultants.
According to Zaranak, at the halfway facility, Donaghy will start his search for a job and begin reconnecting with his family.
Arnie Wexler, a psychologist who works with compulsive gamblers, said he had been in contact with Donaghy during his prison stay and said he believed the former referee also will seek help for an admitted gambling addiction.
According to Wexler, the federal prison system does not provide inmates with help for gambling addictions.