Federal criminal complaint filed
Sports bettor Benjamin Tucker Patz is facing a federal criminal complaint accusing him of sending death threats to college and pro athletes in 2019. The gambler recently claimed to have won more than $1 million on sports wagers.
The 23-year-old, who lives in New York City, allegedly sent hundreds of direct messages to athletes threatening them and their family members. He communicated on social media sites Instagram and Facebook using anonymous accounts. The FBI proceeded to conduct an investigation into the case.
Patz is now looking at federal charges of sending interstate threats and foreign commerce.
The investigation into the matter
The FBI was able to trace the social media account used to send the messages. The discovery led to an IP address in Sacramento, California. Investigators were also able to link this house address to an email address that belonged to Patz. He had formerly been living in Napa, California.
more than 300 people had been threatened with explicit messages
Analysis of the Instagram and email accounts linked to Patz revealed that more than 300 people had been threatened with explicit messages. The filed complaint states that in most cases, the threats were linked to Patz’ gambling activity at the time.
Tampa Bay Rays players on the receiving end
Threatening messages allegedly also reached members of the professional baseball team Tampa Bay Rays. The criminal complaint specifically detailed the threats these players were subjected to.
On July 20, four team members received Instagram messages from Patz. This was the same day of the team’s defeat by the Chicago White Sox in a home fixture. The complaint did not give exact names of these players, only their initials.
One of the messages read, “Unfortunately 0-5 against the Chicago White Sox isn’t going to cut it.” It went on to say,
Because of your sins, I will have to behead you and your family.”
Patz sent similar messages to the three other players. He also got in touch with a White Sox athlete that same day, threatening to behead him and making a derogatory comment about his ethnicity. A number of his messages contained racial slurs.
In one case, Patz threatened to go to the home of an athlete “while you sleep…And sever your neck open…I will kill your entire family…Everyone you love will soon cease…I will cut up your family…Dismember the[m] alive.”
Team releases statement in response
The Tampa Bay Rays released a statement regarding the threats received. It detailed how one of the players had made the threats known to the club officials in 2019.
It said, “The Rays brought the issue to the Clearwater resident office of the FBI, and their agents initiated an investigation that subsequently identified three additional Rays players who had been threatened.”
The pro baseball team and those players on the receiving end of Patz’ threats will continue to cooperate with the FBI while the case investigation goes on.