Friday, December 11, 2009

Donaghy media blitzkrieg on NBA Scandal blog

Latest media coverage of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy's book tour and revelations re: NBA betting scandal at my

Sunday, December 6, 2009

BET's American Gangster on Philly's Black Mafia

Black Entertainment Television (BET) has posted the entire (40 min.) "Philly Black Mafia: 'Do for Self'" episode of their wildly popular American Gangster program.  I mentioned the program in a broader context elsewhere, but have never commented specifically on this episode - which is based on my Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia's Black Mafia (Milo, 2005/2007).  The producer, Henry Schipper, certainly did his homework, much of which never made it into the relatively brief show (covering 40 years in 40 minutes was quite a challenge for him and his colleagues, obviously).  The final product is a great representation of the story, told by several of the people who lived the experience and thus know it best.

Black Brothers, Inc. film update

Saturday, December 5, 2009

NBA Scandal blog updates

Please see for several updates concerning former referee Tim Donaghy, former pro gambler Jimmy "Baba" Battista, and the evolving story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HBO's Real Sports on the NBA Scandal update
This update is likely a sign of things to come and there will be considerable updates to the NBA scandal blog in the coming days and weeks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NBA scandal blog update

A quick commentary on the fiasco regarding NBA referee Tim Donaghy's proposed book, Blowing the Whistle.

Tigre Hill/Barrel of a Gun

On occasion, I am asked about Philadelphia-based filmmaker - and muckraker - Tigre Hill. I came to know Tigre during the course of research for my Black Brothers, Inc. At the time, he and I were each concluding our respective (and independent) investigations of corruption in Mayor John Street’s administration. His work resulted in a critically-acclaimed documentary named Shame of a City. We’ve since become good friends, assisting each other on our various projects whenever possible.

His forthcoming project, Barrel of a Gun, examines in detail the 1981 slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and the myriad events that followed the conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Wesley Cook).

I don't tweet - or anything of the sort, but you can follow the project here.

He takes his craft quite seriously and has been working studiously on this important history.  I'll be sure to offer updates as the project nears completion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Brothers, Inc. film status

Predictably, I get asked fairly frequently about the film adaptation of my Black Brothers, Inc.  Unfortunately, the process is slow and tedious, and I can't speak publicly about all the behind-the-scenes goings on. There will be some updates appearing in media circles shortly, at which point I'll post the material as it becomes available.

Note: As has been posted elsewhere, City Paper's Mary Patel spent some time looking into the project and posted her tidbits here and here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NBA Betting Scandal Tidbits

This is ridiculously light, for a host of reasons (not the least of which is that the established/public version of the scandal is overly simplistic and error-prone, making a synopsis here problematic). at least is the state of affairs regarding the offending parties:

Each of the three participants in the NBA betting scandal pleaded guilty and was sentenced to federal prison. Pro gambler Jimmy Battista and his lifelong pal Tommy Martino were sentenced on July 11, 2008, while referee and mutual friend (and fellow Cardinal O’Hara High alum) Tim Donaghy was sentenced on July 14, 2008. For his admitted crimes (i.e., illegal gambling), Battista received a sentence of 15 months. Donaghy and Martino were each sentenced to 12 months in prison, and all three men began serving time in September 2008. As of October 2009, each man has successfully completed his term.

The seminal coverage of the scandal in the NY Post on July 20, 2007:

Link to an ESPN story covering referee Tim Donaghy's sentencing. There is an incredible assortment of links to scandal analysis in the sidebar (I'll be addressing the predictable, though arguably misguided, focus on Donaghy in the very near future):

The NBA’s so-called “Pedowitz Report” (about which I’ll have quite a bit to say in the near future):

Or here:

The Federal Wire Act:

Related - though not necessarily suggested - reading (in alphabetical order by author):

Steve Budin, Bets, Drugs, and Rock & Roll (New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007).

Richard O. Davies and Richard G. Abram, Betting the Line: Sports Wagering in American Life (Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2001).

James Jeffries and Charles Oliver, The Book on Bookies: An Inside Look at a Successful Sports Gambling Operation (Boulder, CO: Paladin Press, 2000).

Michael Konik, The Smart Money: How the World’s Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies Out of Millions (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003).

Chad Millman, The Odds: One Season, Three Gamblers, and the Death of Their Las Vegas (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press [Perseus], 2001).

David G. Schwartz, Cutting the Wire: Gaming Prohibition and the Internet (Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 2005).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Forthcoming Book on Gambling/NBA Betting Scandal

Though not expressly my research area, illicit gambling has never been far from my organized crime work. Certainly, the two-degrees of separation that often mark the underworld commonly involve the extortion of bookies by local syndicates. Further still, organized crime groups usually have complex relationships with bookies (and with bettors, for that matter). These complicated areas include: financial assistance (usually in the form of loan sharking by the syndicate, though there may be occasions bookies and bettors in fact assist the crime organization) to “mediation” between various parties to money laundering and so on. For these reasons - and more, I wholeheartedly welcomed the opportunity to research the recent NBA betting scandal when granted access to the scandal’s progenitor, professional gambler James Battista, back in March of 2008.
Researching the NBA betting scandal has consumed my time and energy since I first interviewed the man known in big-time betting circles as “the Sheep” - Jimmy “Baba” Battista - in the spring of 2008. This, in large part, explains the lack of updated blog postings here. The new book, like practically all else I have penned, relies upon a mix of numerous interviews, court and law enforcement documents, and related media coverage. Battista did not cooperate with authorities, and has not spoken publicly about the extent, duration and mechanics of the outrageous scheme. Though the book details the activities which placed him in federal prison, it also discusses his remarkable bookmaking and betting career, and examines the fascinating, close-knit fraternity of the world’s most consequential sports bettors.
Now that the research and writing of the tentatively titled Not Sharp Enough: Confessions of a Professional Gambler is all but complete, more will be posted about the current project as events warrant.
A note to my students and colleagues: Whereas Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia (Milo, 2005/07) was a conventional read that followed considerable academic writing on similar and related subject matter, Not Sharp Enough will be mainstream reading followed by academic journal articles (and perhaps an academic text on the general sociology and history of big-time betting).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ricardo McKendrick (Black Mafia) update

George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer penned an interesting article on the narcotics case involving Black Mafia alum Ricardo McKendrick:

Insider information could help authorities target drug kingpins

The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has posted McKendrick's recent indictment (in .pdf format):

April 2008 Indictment of Ricardo McKendrick, Sr. and Ricardo McKendrick, Jr.

For previous coverage of McKendrick's situation, see:

Philly's Black Mafia in the news (again)