A.H.L Player Pleads Guilty in Sports Betting Case
Nathan Paetsch, who played the last three seasons in the American Hockey League, pleaded guilty to being part of an illegal sports betting business. Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, Paetsch, 32, will be sentenced to probation, 400 hours of community service and eight months of home confinement. He must also forfeit $265,000.
He was involved with a gambling operation that took bets through offshore websites, authorities said, placing wagers himself and receiving credit when he recruited fellow players and others to bet.
Two principals of the operation, brothers Mark and Joseph Ruff of Connecticut, were sentenced this year to nine years and just under 3 1/2 years in prison, respectively, after pleading guilty to illegal gambling and other charges. A third man, Paul Borrelli of Rochester, is awaiting sentencing.
Paetsch's attorney said the player's involvement in the business was minimal, and neither he nor the hockey players he introduced to the operation ever bet on hockey.
"With all the players, it was really a group of friends having fun gambling among themselves," attorney David Morabito said. "But they didn't realize that the individuals they were gambling with were much more serious people that were involved in a serious gambling operation."
Paetsch's contract with the Detroit Red Wings' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, ends at the end of this year and the two sides are discussing an extension, Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. The conviction will not affect talks with the defenseman, he said.
"Nathan's done a terrific job there helping us to develop our younger players for the Detroit Red Wings," Martin said. "He's a veteran that played in the NHL. He's got a great commitment to off-ice conditioning. He's a great role model for those players in terms of being a professional hockey player."
The home confinement and community service included in the plea agreement are not expected to interfere with his ability to play, Martin said.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul said Paetsch provided usernames and passwords for bettors to place Internet wagers and made arrangements for the collection of payments from bettors in Canada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. He would evade bank reporting requirements by keeping transactions to under $10,000, prosecutors said.