Former NHLer Pleads Guilty to Illegal Online Gambling Charges

July 1, 2015 •

nathan-paetsch.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxNathan Paetsch, who is a former Sabre, Canuck, and Florida Panther will probably face probation, community service, and eight months of home confinement. The former National Hockey League player has plead guilty to taking part in an illegal online sports gambling operation. Paetsch, 28, will face sentencing on Aug. 31 of this year. Paetsch, who hails from LeRoy, Sask., Paetsch played a majority of career with the Buffalo Sabres.

While playing in Florida and Vancouver, he was known for being a gritty, versatile player, who played both in a defenseman position and also was used as a fourth-line forward. Also, a member of Canada’s national junior team, he had a long post-NHL stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League for the past three seasons.

Now based out of Spencerport, N.Y., Paetsch reached a plea deal with prosecutors in the case, in Rochester, N.Y., last week. If the deal is accepted by a judge, he would most likely face probation, community service, and would forfeit $265,000 USD. The FBI is claiming that Paetsch was deeply involved in a gambling operation whose three main players were convicted earlier this year.

Paetsch’s lawyer’s main argument was that his involvement was minimal and that it only included getting free credit when he introduced friends, including other hockey players, to the gambling operation. Adding that players never bet on hockey games.

Paetsch, also resides in Naples, Fla., pleaded guilty to transmission of wagering information and structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. Those charges carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, and a fine of $750,000 or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola claims that Paetsch’s involvment was intimately tied to the going ons of Ruff brothers, both Joseph Ruff, 32, and Mark Ruff, 40, of Connecticut and included close ties to soon to be convicted felon Paul Borrelli, 66, of Rochester, who will be sentenced on Sept. 8.

Their main game and crime was illegal sports betting offered through multiple offshore Internet gambling websites. The brothers, Mark and Joseph Ruff were already sentenced, one to nine years, and the other to 41 months in prison, respectively.

In a prepared statement, the FBI said Paetsch passed on information “which assisted in the placing of bets and wagers with the illegal Internet gambling business on sporting events and contests.”
“Paetsch’s transmissions entitled him to receive money or credit as a result of bets and wagers,” the FBI said.

“The information provided by Paetsch included usernames and passwords to accounts for bettors to place Internet wagers, odds on sporting events, credit limits and balances of bettors, making arrangements for the collection of cash payments from bettors in Canada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida, and bank account information to conceal payments for gambling debts owed from wagers placed with the illegal gambling business,” the FBI said.