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Disgraced NBA referee sues Largo publisher

LARGO — The feud between disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy and his former publisher is playing out in court.

Donaghy filed suit this week accusing Shawna Vercher and her Largo company, VTi Group, of a "scheme to defraud" Donaghy in connection with the book he wrote about becoming the "central figure in a Mafia-controlled gambling ring."

Donaghy, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to transmit betting information, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. He got out in November.

After Donaghy's business relationship with Vercher soured, he accused her of misappropriating proceeds from sales of his book, Personal Foul, and of trying to discredit him. She accused him of threatening her and trying to scare her with talk of mob ties.

Since Donaghy was ordered to pay about $195,000 in restitution to the NBA, the U.S. Attorney's Office is making sure the NBA gets its money. Vercher said she supplied financial records to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which declined comment on the case.

Donaghy's suit, filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, says that he believes gross revenue for his book was more than $300,000. Vercher has said that, after expenses, she expected profits to be less than $100,000.

The suit also claims Vercher provided the media, law enforcement and the Justice Department with false reports of "alleged improper activities."

Vercher did not return calls for comment on the suit.

Donaghy's Tampa attorney, Nick Mooney, said Donaghy had to sue Vercher because the government was not helping Donaghy recover money owed to him.

"Tim is just hoping to get this resolved and move on," Mooney said.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Disgraced NBA referee sues Largo publisher 08/05/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 11:47pm]

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