Sports bettor sentenced after pleading guilty to threatening Tampa Bay Rays players

A 24-year-old sports bettor, who was accused of threatening professional and collegiate athletes on social media, was sentenced to 36 months of probation Thursday in federal court in Tampa, Florida.

In March, Benjamin Patz, of Napa, California, pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce, according to court records. His sentence includes six months of home detention and required participation in a mental health treatment program. Patz is prohibited from engaging in "gambling, wagering, or other activities, either online or in person," according to the sentencing memorandum.

"In open court this morning, Mr. Patz expressed remorse for his actions and the hurt he caused and apologized to anyone who received one of his messages or was otherwise adversely affected by them," David Weisbrod, attorney for Patz, told ESPN in a statement. "He is also grateful for the court's decision to place him on probation. Other than that, there will be no other comments."

In a criminal complaint released in 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice claimed Patz targeted 307 social media accounts, primarily belonging to professional and collegiate athletes and their family members or significant others. The complaint stated that players for the New England Patriots, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Pepperdine University men's college basketball team were among the targets.

In his plea agreement, Patz acknowledged sending threats via direct message on Instagram to four Rays players after a game against the Chicago White Sox on July 20, 2019.

The message included: "I will sever your neck open you pathetic [expletive]"; "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"; and "Dismember then [sic] alive."

Patz gained notoriety in the sports betting community after reportedly winning more than $1 million on parlay wagers, earning him the nickname "Parlay Patz." The criminal complaint stated that Patz's "substantial and persistent online sports wagering suggests that Patz might have threatened athletes who played in games on which he had unsuccessfully wagered and lost money -- or that he might have tried to influence the outcome of upcoming sporting events on which had wagered."

The case was investigated as part of the FBI's Integrity in Sports and Gaming Initiative.