Gambler who threatened Tampa Bay Rays players pleads guilty

Benjamin Patz, known as Parlay Patz, admitted he sent threatening Instagram messages.
The Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse in downtown Tampa.
The Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse in downtown Tampa. [ Times ]
Published March 9, 2021|Updated March 9, 2021

TAMPA — A sports gambler, who was reported to have boasted wins of more than $1 million, has admitted that he sent a string of social media messages to Tampa Bay Rays players in 2019 that included threats to “sever your neck open” and “kill your entire family.”

Benjamin Tucker Patz, known by the online moniker Parlay Patz, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single charge of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. The crime carries a maximum prison term of five years and a possible fine of $250,000.

A criminal complaint filed a year ago said FBI agents suspected Patz sent more than 300 threatening messages to professional and college athletes and their families.

But the charge to which he pleaded guilty related only to messages directed to four Tampa Bay Rays players and a member of the Chicago White Sox. Messages were sent to the five via Instagram on July 20, 2019, the same day that the Rays lost a home game to the White Sox.

Related: 'I will sever your neck,' Gambler who made $1 million threatened Rays, feds say

A plea agreement Patz signed last month quotes one string of Instagram messages that were sent to a Rays player identified by the initials “E.P.”

“”I will sever your neck open you pathetic (expletive),” the message stated. “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 them alive.”

The threats came from an Instagram account identified as “@b82hs9.” FBI agents obtained Instagram records that linked the account to an internet protocol address in Sacramento, Calif., according to the plea agreement. Patz, at the time, lived in Napa, Calif., about an hour’s drive south of Sacramento. Records showed the same IP address was used a few hours later to log in to Instagram and Yahoo email accounts belonging to Patz.

Patz, 24, appeared in a Tampa courtroom Tuesday afternoon. He wore a dark blue suit and a black mask. As he answered a series of standard questions from a judge, Patz mentioned that he is studying to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

When a prosecutor recited a summary of the crime, Patz raised his left hand and began rubbing his forehead.

The criminal complaint referenced news articles that described Patz as a gambler who made more than $1 million betting on sports.

A sentencing date has not been set.