Peter Ruggieri, 38, once convicted of running an illegal sports gambling operation in Las Vegas, introduced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy (right) to mob-connected gamblers, according to a story by Jana Winter, Samuel Goldsmith and Chuck Bennett of the New York Post. The Post specifically mentioned the New York-based Gambino Crime Family.
Law enforcement and the NBA are investigating charges that Donaghy influenced the outcome of professional basketball games on which he and others had placed bets. Officials allege that Donaghy went into debt and fell under the influence of organized crime figures.Ruggieri is reportedly from Glen Mills, PA, a short distance from the hometown of Donaghy and his friend James Battista. Ruggieri and Battista, now 42, later moved to homes just over a mile apart in Las Vegas.
A Donaghy friend told the newspaper that Ruggieri was Donaghy's connection to mob gamblers. Ruggieri once worked as a bagman for an illegal sports bookmaking operation in Las Vegas. He was convicted of wire fraud in 2002 for taking bets from bookies in New Jersey and New York City.
Battista has faced some minor charges, including gambling, but has never been convicted of a serious offense, the newspaper reported.