In the heart of New York City’s ceaseless bustle, a tale of deception and high stakes unfurled as the FBI detained Long Phi Pham, one of the key figures in a scandal shaking the foundations of the NBA. The scene at JFK International Airport was fraught with tension as Pham, 38, was halted in his tracks, moments before taking off on a one-way flight to Australia.

At his Brooklyn federal court bail hearing, the self-proclaimed elite “poker shark” vehemently countered the allegations through his attorney, proclaiming his international journey was purely to participate in a poker tournament at Sydney’s Star Casino—not an escape from justice. With $12,000 in cash, $80,000 in cashier’s checks, and a trio of cell phones in tow, Pham was prepared for a showdown at the tables, or so he maintained.

Michael Soschnik, Pham’s legal representative, emerged from the courtroom and articulated to the throngs of reporters his client’s alleged standing in the global poker echelon, painting Pham as a player within the exclusive one percent upper tier.

The scandal in question involves a clever manipulation of NBA games. Pham, associated with a coterie comprised of characters such as Ammar Awawdeh, Timothy McCormac, and Mahmud Mollah—all pictured in a covert conference within an Atlantic City casino restaurant—orchestrated a lucrative betting plot. Their scheme yielded over $2 million by artful wagers through DraftKings and FanDuel against the performance of Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter, who was privy to the plan and destined to feign injury.

While the wins were sizeable, the house soon grew wise to the irregular betting patterns, and the bulk of the ill-gotten gains were seized. Prosecutors painted a sordid picture of Jontay Porter, ensnared by a web of gambling debts to this syndicate, leading to his lifetime NBA exile for flouting betting policies.

The air at the bail hearing crackled with the weight of Pham’s charges—wire fraud among them—and while Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak granted bail at the sum of $750,000, her skepticism loomed heavily in the courtroom. “I think he is trying to flee the country to evade prosecution. I am sitting here today with very serious doubts that I am making a big mistake,” she confessed.

Questions swirled regarding the purported poker tournament Pham cited for his Australian trip. At this juncture, the Star Casino’s calendar showed no event of the magnitude that would usually lure a player of Pham’s vaunted caliber, especially during the World Series of Poker’s electric proceedings in Las Vegas.

Delving into the Hendon Mob database revealed a “Long Pham” with live tournament earnings modest in comparison to his claims—a sum of just $3,336—and a predilection for events with more sensible buy-ins.

With his freedom staked on a roll of the judicial dice, Pham now faces the grim prospect of a 20-year sentence, should the courts deal him a losing hand.

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Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson, a Senior Editor and respected voice in iGaming and sports, brings over a decade of journalism experience with a focus on digital gaming and cryptocurrency. Starting in sports analysis, he now leads a team of writers, delivering insightful and advanced content in the dynamic world of online gaming. An avid gamer and crypto-enthusiast, Mark's unique perspective enriches his professional analysis. He's also a regular speaker at industry conferences, sharing his views on the future of iGaming and digital finance. Follow his latest articles and insights on social media.


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