Sports bettor ‘Parlay Patz’ charged with abhorrent threats against athletes after losing wagers

Patriots' Julian Edelman, Dec. 15, 2019 (AP Photo Gary Landers)
Patriots' Julian Edelman (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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AMPA, Fla. (AP) — A New York sports gambler is facing federal charges in Florida related to threatening social media messages sent to players with the Tampa Bay Rays and other teams, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa announced a charge of transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce against Benjamin Tucker Patz, 23. He faces up to five years in federal prison.

Patz made numerous violent threats last year against athletes and their family members through anonymous Instagram accounts, according to a criminal complaint (which can be read in its entirety here via Sports Handle). In many messages, Patz threatened to enter the athletes’ homes and behead them or their family members, the FBI said. Some of Patz’s threats also contained derogatory terms and racial slurs, investigators said.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost a home baseball game last July 20 to the Chicago White Sox. An account linked to Patz later sent threatening Instagram messages to four players for the Rays and one player for the White Sox, according to authorities. None of the players were identified by name, only initials, including “C.R.”

Chaz Roe was the relief pitcher who gave up the game-winning hit in the 11th inning of Chicago’s 2-1 victory. “Your family will be beheaded,” said a message to C.R. that was quoted in the criminal complaint.

Patz, who resides in New York and California, goes by the moniker “Parlay Patz.” FBI investigators said they found online articles that claimed he had recently won more than $1 million by wagering on sports events.

Over the past year, Patz has sent threatening messages through social media to numerous professional athletes, investigators said. After losing $10,000 by betting on the Los Angeles Rams to win last year’s Super Bowl, Patz sent messages to two players on the game’s winning team, the New England Patriots, claiming that he would rape and murder their families, the indictment said. The Patriots players were identified as “J.E.” and “R.G.” Julian Edelman earned Super Bowl MVP honors, while Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 87 yards.

The complaint also lists threats against players for the Atlanta Braves, the San Diego Padres, the Oakland Athletics, the Cleveland Indians, the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals. One of Patz’s accounts also threatened a player for the Swedish women’s soccer team after they beat Germany in the Women’s World Cup Quarter-Final, instigators said.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Amy Filjones said Patz was charged in Florida’s Middle District because the Rays players were there when the threats were made. It wasn’t immediately clear if Patz would face charges in other districts for the other threats.

Patz turned himself in to federal authorities Thursday.

“The safety of our players and staff is paramount and all threats are taken seriously,” Rays spokesman Dave Haller said in a statement. “The Rays and the players involved are cooperating with the FBI as the legal process continues.”

Information from other online reports was used in this article.

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