Benjamin Patz, also known as “Parlay Patz,” is facing charges from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for transmission of interstate threats aimed at several Major League Baseball (MLB) players.
Patz, 23, rose to internet stardom in 2019 after hitting a series of parlays, winning more than $1 million, according to the Justice Department and earning the moniker “Parlay Patz.” In less than 24 hours last December, Patz hit an eight-team parlay, taking home nearly $184,000; and a five-team accumulator worth more than $116,200.
A DOJ complaint filed in US District Court in the Middle District of Florida charges Patz with “transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce.”
On July 20, 2019, the Tampa Bay Rays lost a home game to the Chicago White Sox,” said DOJ. “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.”
The complaint says the alleged threats made by Patz were lobbed via anonymous Instagram accounts.
DOJ alleges that Patz threatened to enter the homes of the players, who were not identified in the complaint, and commit acts of violence, such as beheading, dismemberment, and throat-cutting. Other posts supposedly sent from the Instagram handle @b82h9 contained racially insensitive comments and remarks.
According to the DOJ, one @b82h9 post said, “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.”
Another contained the following: “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.”
The complaint did not mention how the poster of those messages and others bet the game in question, which was a 2-1 victory for the White Sox.
In March 2019, the FBI submitted an Emergency Disclosure Request (EDR) to Instagram parent Facebook. Facebook would later confirm to the FBI that the recovery email address for the @b82h9 Instagram handle was email@example.com. Google, the owner of Gmail, told the FBI that account was linked to the Yahoo mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rays, Sox May Not be the Only Victims
The DOJ complaint indicates that on July 4, 2019, the user behind the @b82h9 Instagram account sent a message to a Toronto Blue Jays player using a racial pejorative aimed at African Americans, and another threatening violence against the athlete’s daughters.
Later that month, other Instagram accounts lobbed similarly worded messages at players from the Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres. In the complaint, FBI Special Agent Daniel Nowak states he believes all the messages in question were transmitted by Patz.
These aren’t the first instances of impassioned bettors going too far with athlete interactions. Earlier this year, Louisville Cardinals star Jordan Nwora received a death threat from a gambler that had $15 on a game in which Nwora played.
Last year, Addison Choi, formerly a soccer player at Babson College, received 18 months in prison for threatening at least 45 college and professional athletes in 2017.
If found guilty of the interstate transmission charge, Patz could face up to five years in federal prison, said the Justice Department.