Waves Hoops Player Among Pro and Amateur Athletes Threatened By Sports Bettor

A gambler who threatened a Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball player via social media more than 13 months ago was arrested by federal authorities last month. 

Twenty-three-year-old Benjamin Tucker Patz of New York sent four Instagram direct messages to the Waves player on March 9, 2019, from the Instagram handle @b82hs9. The messages includes ones that read, “I will enter your home as you sleep and kill you,” and “Watch your back, you’re a dead man walking,” in addition to even more graphically violent messages, according to a criminal complaint filed on Feb. 24 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida titled, “United States of America v. Benjamin Tucker Patz, a/k/a ‘Parlay Patz.’”

A day after the messages were sent to the hoops player, identified as C.R. in the complaint, authorities were able to trace the threats to Patz, a sports bettor who gained limited notoriety in the gambling word for during the 2019 football season tallying over $1.1 million in gross winnings via parlays in less than two months. The 21-page court document, penned by FBI Special Agent Daniel A. Nowak, revealed the Pepperdine athlete was one of numerous college and professional baseball, basketball, football, soccer players and their friends and family that Patz threatened over social media last year. The wagerer sent 18 messages from the Instagram account he messaged the Waves player from and over 300 threatening social media texts from anonymous accounts. 

Several of Patz’s messages referenced unsuccessful bets that were placed on those athletes’ teams, read Nowak’s affidavit. 

“I believe that Patz transmitted these messages and that he did so for the purpose of issuing at threat and with knowledge that the communication would be viewed as a threat,” Nowak wrote. 

Patz is charged with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce, which faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in federal prison. 

Patz’s threats toward the Waves player came after Pepperdine defeated San Francisco, 89-72, in the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. Colbey Ross led with Waves 26 points. Kessler Edwards scored 14 and Eric Cooper Jr. rang up 13 in the contest which was an upset victory for Pepperdine.

Waves athletics spokesperson Roger Horne said the Pepperdine athlete Patz targeted did not want to talk to the media about the threats. 

“The player involved wants to move past this and forget about it, so he has declined interview requests,” Horne wrote in an April 22 email. 

Horne did not believe the university currently had any involvement in the case against Patz. The arrest “came out of the blue,” he noted. 

Earlier this month, in a statement to the Pepperdine University student newspaper, The Graphic, the Waves athletic department said the safety of student-athletes is its highest priority and that university officials immediately informed WCC officials of the threatening messages.

“The Las Vegas Police Department, as well as Pepperdine’s Department of Public Safety, provided immediate support and within hours the source of the threats was identified. We are thankful to the Las Vegas Police and our own Department of Public Safety for their assistance,” the statement said. 

Patz sent threatening messages to two members of the NFL’s New England Patriots on Feb. 3, 2019, after he bet $10,000 on the Rams to win the Super Bowl contest they lost to the Patriots, according to court documents. His messages—written in all-caps—included threats of rape and murder toward the players and their families.

When Germany lost to Sweden Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal on June 29, 2019, Patz sent two Instagram message to H.L., a member of the Swedish team, threatening rape and murder. On the same day, Z.P., a player with the MLB’s Cleveland Indians, received a message from Patz’s Instagram account that threatened his and his family’s lives.

Patz threatened another baseball player, C.R. with the Tampa Bay Rays, on July 20, 2019. “Your family will be beheaded,” the message from one of Patz Instagram accounts read. Also, that same day the girlfriend of an Atlanta Braves J.D. was threatened by Patz. The message to the woman, B.M., said, “Your husband will be beheaded,” and “I’ll enter your home while you sleep and end both of you.” 

Patz turned himself into a federal marshal on March 5 and appeared in a federal courthouse in Tampa, Florida. He was released later in the month on $100,000 bond and awaits trial. 

According to media reports, a U.S. attorney’s office spokesperson said Patz was charged in the Middle District of Florida because members of the Tampa Rays baseball team the threatened were there when he allegedly targeted them after they lost a game contest to the Chicago White Sox last July. 

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