Tampa, Florida - Saying his "mistakes" are behind him, convicted NBA referee Tim Donaghy celebrates a victory in a venue that hasn't been kind to him in recent years: the courtroom.
The Sarasota resident was awarded more than $1.5 million on Friday in a civil suit against the first publisher of his tell-all book, "Personal Foul." Prior to publishing the book, Donaghy served the majority of a 15-month federal sentence for providing insider tips on games and tax fraud.
The publisher, Shawna Vercher, and her now-defunct company, VTi Group, were found responsible for five civil charges, including breach of contract, civil theft, and inflicting emotional distress.
Vercher, who has worked for 10 News as a political analyst, said she had legitimate reasons for withholding the book's proceeds.
Speaking from the office of his lawyer, Nick Mooney, Donaghy says the unanimous decision from a jury of six is the vindication he sought for two years.
"I have a long way to go," Donaghy said, "but (the verdict) definitely helps that it was put out there that I told the truth in this matter from Day One."
"Obviously, I made mistakes in the past and if I could turn back time, I certainly would...but I want to continue to...put that behind me and make better choices."
Donaghy, who is on probation until this fall, remains involved in the field that got him ejected from the NBA: gambling. Last year, 10 News profiled Donaghy's work as a bettor's consultant.
At that time, Vercher had also filed several police reports against Donaghy, alleging he threatened her with violence. She says she didn't get a fair shake at trial and is concentrating on filing an appeal.
"There are a number of people who don't get their fair day in court," Vercher said. "(And) we don't tend to sling mud in the court of public opinion."
But slinging mud is what Donaghy's lawyers said lead to an extra $500,000 judgement for emotional distress and another $500,000 for tortuous interference.
They argued Vercher spread lies about Donaghy via emails and websites. Vercher's former employees corroborated the allegations in sworn depositions and testimony.
"The fact is, the truth is out there to see," Donaghy said. "No matter what direction Ms. Vercher tried to spin this, the facts are the facts & a judgment is a judgment."
Donaghy says the judgement is a step toward repairing his reputation and maintains he never sacrificed his integrity on the court, either.
Neither the NBA nor the FBI has ever produced evidence that Donaghy wagered on a game he worked.
If the former ref ever sees the money from the judgement, he says some will go toward the education of his four girls, while some will go toward re-paying nearly 200,000 dollars in restitution to the NBA.
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