Likely sentence of up to five years
A sports bettor has pleaded guilty in a Tampa federal courtroom to anonymously sending death threats to a number of Major League Baseball (MLB) players on social media in 2019.
threatening messages received by a Chicago White Sox player and four Tampa Bay Rays players
Benjamin Tucker Patz entered a guilty plea on Wednesday to charges relating to the transmission of a true threat in interstate commerce and sending messages with the intent to communicate a true threat, or knowing that the recipients would view the messages as a true threat. The case concerns threatening messages received by a Chicago White Sox player and four Tampa Bay Rays players on July 20, 2019.
The White Sox had beaten the Rays in an MLB match in Tampa that day.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida outlined that the defendant is facing a federal prison sentence of up to five years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000. No sentencing date has been set yet. Prosecutors agreed not to charge the defendant with other related federal crimes known to investigators if the court accepts the plea agreement. They filed the initial complaint against Patz back in March 2020, following which the defendant signed the plea agreement on February 15, 2021.
Tracking down the defendant
Patz, who often goes by the name “Parlay Patz” online, has claimed in the past that he has won more than $1m through sports betting. As part of the plea agreement, he will have to complete and submit an affidavit detailing his current financial situation.
he has won more than $1m through sports betting
The “@b82hs9” Instagram handle was responsible for the threatening messages. FBI agents managing to trace the account back to Patz when they found a connection to a Sacramento, California IP address. A few hours after sending the threatening messages, Patz signed into his personal Yahoo email account and the parlaypatz Instagram account from the same IP address. He was living in Napa, California at the time, which is about an hour’s drive from Sacramento.
Numerous messages sent to other athletes
Patz reportedly sent similarly threatening messages to other pro and college athletes during the course of 2019 through various accounts. These included players for the New England Patriots, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians, and Toronto Blue Jays.
FBI agents investigated Patz with regard to sending over 300 threatening messages to both college and professional athletes, as well as their families. Some of the threats he sent to players included “I will kill your entire family” and “I will enter your home while you sleep.”
As well as threatening to harm the athletes and their relatives, some of the messages contained racial slurs and derogatory terms.
The Tampa Bay Rays organization initially made the FBI aware of the threats after one of the players informed club officials of the messages back in 2019. This gave rise to the investigation and subsequent identification of three other team members who had also received messages from Patz.