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I'm doggone sorry, says ref

Donaghy huddles with family after admitting he got $30G in bet plot that rocked NBA


Tim Donaghy and daughters pose with dog Zoi in yard of Bradenton, Fla., home day after dirty ref entered guilty plea for part he played in NBA gambling ring.

Tim Donaghy and daughters pose with dog Zoi in yard of Bradenton, Fla., home day after dirty ref entered guilty plea for part he played in NBA gambling ring.


BRADENTON, Fla. - Dirty NBA ref Tim Donaghy was in a sorry state yesterday.

A day after coming clean about his role in an NBA gambling ring, he was back home in Florida and - in his first public comments - apologizing for his disgraceful actions.

"I'm very sorry about what happened," Donaghy, 40, told the Daily News outside his home.

"I'm not going to say anything beyond that. This is an ongoing case - I can't say anything else."

Donaghy had plenty to say in Brooklyn Federal Court this week, pleading guilty to two gambling-related charges and telling a judge he was paid $30,000 to pass inside information on professional basketball games to his bookie buddies.

He admitted he even made picks in games he was assigned to referee, using special codes to communicate with cronies James Battista, 42, and Thomas Martino, 41.

"I was in a unique position to pick the outcome of NBA games," he told a judge Wednesday. "I received cash payments for successful picks."

The 13-year NBA veteran, who resigned last month after his name surfaced in the FBI probe, has blamed a severe gambling problem and depression for his behavior.

Donaghy, who is expected to testify against his former pals, faces up to 25 years in prison, a half-million dollars in fines and return of his ill-gotten gains.

After his plea, he returned home late Wednesday and was driven to his door by a friend.

Yesterday morning, he stepped into his front yard and chatted with a reporter for the first time since the scandal broke.

He even posed for a photo with his dog at his comfortable home, located in a gated golf community called The Country Club.

After spending weeks in seclusion, it appears that Donaghy is determined to live as normal a life as possible in the months before he's sentenced.

A sheet that had been covering the glass door to the house was removed, and he was out and about, driving his daughter to an activity.

oyaniv@nydailynews.com

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