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Sports gambler accused of sending threatening messages to scores of athletes

Benjamin Tucker Patz, better known as "Parlay Patz," faces up to five years behind bars.
a customer at the new sportbook at Bally's casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on June 27, 2019.
a customer at the new sportbook at Bally's casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on June 27, 2019.Wayne Parry / AP file

A high-roller sports gambler, with a short temper and quick trigger on social media, was arrested Thursday and accused of sending scores of vile messages to athletes who he blamed for lost wagers, authorities said.

Benjamin Tucker Patz, known in the gambling community as "Parlay Patz," was charged with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce, which carries up to five years behind bars, federal prosecutor said.

Patz who lives in New York, but also has ties to Northern California, surrendered to federal authorities in Tampa, Florida on Thursday.

The defendant used Instagram direct messages to send nasty notes to baseball, football and basketball players and even one women's soccer player in 2019, according to a complaint written by FBI Special Agent Daniel Nowak.

In the 20-page affidavit, Nowak used initials and team names to identify targeted athletes — but in virtually every instance, the letters matched with just one player on the squads mentioned.

For example, Patz alleged lost his cool, and $10,000, betting on Los Angeles in the Feb. 3, 2019 Super Bowl, won by the New England Patriots, according to the affidavit.

"ILL RAPE AND MURDER YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY," the defendant said via Instagram messenger to a victim that Nowak identified as "J.E., a professional football player for the New England Patriots."

Patz also raged, "I WILL BRUTALLY RAPE AND MURDER YOUR FAMILY" and "I WILL ENTER YOUR HOME WHILE YOU SLEEP AND SEVER YOUR NECK OPEN WITH A DULL KNIFE" at someone Nowak identified as "R.G., a professional football player for the New England Patriots."

Two of the most important players on the 2018-19 Patriots were wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Edelman was named that Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

Patz was also a loser on June 29 when Germany was upset, 2-1, by Sweden in the Women's World Cup, officials said. The defendant sent a message to Swedish player H.L., telling her "I'm going to rape and dismember you" and "I will severe your aorta while you sleep," according to the FBI.

Sweden's goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl stopped five of Germany's six shots on target that day.

Even romantic partners of players were not spared Patz's rage. He seemed to very angry at the Atlanta Braves on July 20, for losing 5-3 to the Washington Nationals.

He allegedly wrote to a player named "J.D." that "I WILL KILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WHILE YOU SLEEP" and "YOU RUINED THIS GAME. NOW I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO RUIN YOU."

Patz also told "J.D.'s girlfriend B.M.," according to the affidavit, "Your husband will be beheaded" and "I'll enter your home while you sleep and end both of you."

One of the 2019 Braves' best players was third baseman Josh Donaldson, whose long-time girlfriend is vegan activist Briana Miller.

And at least one athlete responded to Patz. The gambler told " C.J." with the University of Arizona basketball team on Dec. 22, according to Nowak, "Your worthlessness cost me 100,000$ tonight! Sad!!"

A day earlier, St. John's University beat Arizona, 70-67. Arizona's 6-foot-10 center, Chase Jeter, had a rough game that day, fouling out with just five point and three rebounds.

C.J. responded: "Gambling is a dangerous habit. You're addicted. Stop it. Get some help!"

Patz allegedly responded, "I'm doing just fine, over one million this month!"

His defense lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

The 23-year-old defendant appeared in a Tampa courtroom late Thursday afternoon and was released on $100,000 bond, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors said.

He surrendered his passport and was ordered to stay within central Florida, New York City, Northern California, federal officials said. He's also been ordered not to gamble and to stay off Instagram and Twitter.