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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Sports Bettor Charged With Threatening Tampa Bay Rays Players And Other Professional Athletes

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the filing of a criminal complaint charging Benjamin Tucker Patz (23, New York, New York), a/k/a “Parlay Patz,” with transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce. If convicted, Patz faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

According to the complaint, in 2019, Patz made numerous threats to carry out violence against professional athletes and/or their family members via Instagram messages, using anonymous accounts. In many of the messages, Patz threatened to enter the athletes’ homes and behead them or their family members. Some of Patz’s threats also contained derogatory terms and racial slurs directed at those individuals.

On July 20, 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays lost a home game to the Chicago White Sox. That same day, four baseball players for the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as a baseball player for the Chicago White Sox, received Instagram direct messages from Patz in which he threatened to carry out acts of violence against them. Patz made the following threats to the Tampa Bay Rays players:

  • “I will enter your home 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”;
  • “Your family’s necks will be severed open with a dull knife!...Your family will die!”;
  • “Unfortunately 0-5 against the Chicago White Sox isn’t going to cut it.  Because of your sins, I will have to behead you and your family”; and
  • “Your family will be beheaded.”

Patz, who resides in both New York and California and goes by the moniker “Parlay Patz,” had recently won more than $1 million by wagering on sports events. 

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is part of the Bureau’s Integrity in Sport and Gaming Initiative, which is designed to tackle illegal sports gambling and combat threats of influence from criminal enterprises. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick Scruggs.

Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Component(s): 
Updated March 4, 2020