Source: Indicted ailing Philly bookie was in on Tim Donaghy games

By David Payne Purdum / @DavidPurdum

One of the men allegedly in on the Tim Donaghy NBA gambling scandal is headed to trial – if he survives.

Joseph Vito Mastronardo Jr., the accused head of a multimillion-dollar Philadelphia-based sports betting operation, was among 16 indicted Wednesday on gambling and racketeering charges.

A source close to the family said that Joe Vito is battling cancer and isn’t expected to survive the trial.

According to the source who asked to remain anonymous, a lot of Mastronardo’s money was wagered on the games Donaghy, a former NBA ref, provided information on. Sean Patrick Griffin, author of “Gaming the Game,” described Mastronardo as “one of the most influential bookmakers and bettors on the East Coast” in a 2010 blog post.

Griffin told’s William Bender that Mastronardo mentored James “Baba” Battista, who is said to have been the primary co-conspirator with Donaghy.

“It’s Joe Vito’s records that led them to Battista,” Griffin told “Battista initially thought Joe was a rat.”

The indictment charges Joe Vito Mastronardo and John Mastronardo as being the leaders of the operation that allegedly had more than 1,000 bettors and generated millions of dollars a year. Multiple offshore websites were used in the operation, according to the indictment.

A gambler who claimed to be one of Mastronardo’s clients pointed to as one of the sites used in the operation. Limits were reportedly $150,000 at the Costa Rica-based site, which appeared to be up and running as of Wednesday evening.

Prosecutors told  The Times Herald that the bookmaking organization was non-violent and debts were sometimes settled by making donations to charitable organizations.

 “There are no facts alleged in the indictment or charges of any acts of violence or retaliation against a bettor who could not pay,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Bologna told The Times Herald.

The source close to the Mastronardo family added that Joe Vito paid millions of dollars in taxes on his gambling income for over 25 years.

Last year, police discovered more than $1 million in cash buried in the yard of Joe Mastronardo’s Philadelphia mansion. Some of the stash was found in specially-built compartments and in PVC pipes buried in the yard, according to

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3 thoughts on “Source: Indicted ailing Philly bookie was in on Tim Donaghy games

  1. Pingback: Joseph “Joe Vito” Mastronardo |

  2. i am a neighbor of joe mastronardo i live on stocton rd several houses down from him and i also will be going on vacation soon to federal prison for 3 years i am now a retired bookmaker.i just wanted to tell a funny story about the day joe’s yard was dug up and the money was found i had just left my bar in the northeast and my phone rang (prepaid that is) and my friend on the other end of the line said that feds were digging up a lawn in pennock woods which is the name of our development and that it was breaking news coming on at 5:00. This call came to me at 4:30 so i pulled over to a bar on castor ave i went in to have a drink to calm myself down,there was a reason i was nervous, a very good reason. While sitting in the bar on castor ave i waited for the news to come on i borrowed some ladies phone for 30 minutes to basicly develope an exit plan for a week or so till i was ready to face the music. The news came on at 5:00 and there were helcopters all over our development and they showed the house and the yard that the feds were diging up and to my amazement burying your money in your yard was something that other people also did in that development, needless to say it was not my yard. what i thought was going to be the worst day that i had known, turned out to be the very luckiest day that i had ever had. I dont know what the odds are on that but i am sure they are very steep. I will end my story with this,the life of a successful bookmaker is a lot of fun. I almost think that if you have too much fun in life that there has to be a penalty that comes along with that. My penalty is leaving my unbelievable daughter ,my woman and my family and loosing two of the closest friends i had. Yeah i was one of the smart ones i had a 20 year run and made a boat load of money and only got a smack on the wrist in the end. but i lost a-lot,my best friend cooperated againts me which broke my heart he told them everything about our business over the course of 12 years,my cousin also did me in. He got me for every dollar he could and he also was an informant and doesn’t think i know, he was like a brother to me, more than my own brother. these are guys who woke up every day of their lives for 20 years and loved being a part of what i had created and the money that came with it. But the sad truth is they are weak and their sentence is much worse than mine. They have life sentences because people who know all of us know i was their best friend and they know how they both stabbed me and my daughter and my family in the back,what i find even worse is that they stabbed their own families in the back. i was the godfather to both of their children and it kills me that i cant be there for their families. there is a saying that money is the root of all evil……its true!

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