Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy surrendered his freedom at 12:30 p.m. yesterday when he reported to the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Fla., to begin serving a 15-month sentence.

Donaghy, 41, the Delaware County native who pleaded guilty last year to gambling and wire-fraud charges, must serve at least 12 months in jail. He admitted to providing inside basketball picks to Cardinal O'Hara buddies James "Baba" Battista, of Phoenixville, and Thomas Martino, of Boothwyn.

Felicia Ponce, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said the minimum-security Pensacola prison camp does not have fences. It appears to be a much nicer place to do time than Battista's new digs, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which Ponce said is a high rise that holds inmates of all security levels.

Battista, 43, also known as "Sheep," was sentenced in July to 15 months in jail for interstate gambling. He reported to the Brooklyn prison on Thursday. Last month, he was permitted to travel to Sea World for a vacation with his wife and three children.

That leaves Martino, 42, who must report to prison, at a site to be determined, by Oct. 16. He was sentenced the same day as Battista to a year and a day behind bars for wire fraud.

Martino's attorney, Vicki Herr, convinced U.S. District Court Judge Carol Amon to postpone the beginning of his prison term so he could graduate from cosmetology school. Herr said Martino plans to work at his brother's salon when he gets out of jail. *