Report: Wild's Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation

by Jul 21, 6:21 PM

Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek voluntarily appeared at a federal court building in upstate New York on Monday, and is believed to be connected to an ongoing federal gambling investigation, according to WHEC Rochester.

A law enforcement source tells News10NBC that former Amerk and Buffalo Sabres star Thomas Vanek is connected to the investigation tied to the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte ... Thomas Vanek is not charged with any crime and he voluntarily came to the federal court building with his lawyer. But law enforcement sources say he's connected to that gambling investigation. 

Vanek's agent, Steve Bartlett, issued the following statement on his behalf:

Representatives of the U.S. Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.

Bartlett added Vanek is simply a witness in a federal case; "he is not under suspicion", nor has he done anything wrong.

Earlier this summer, three men were indicted on gambling and money laundering charges, with the Marina Bar named as a meeting place for cash payments and drop-offs.

Interestingly, former Sabres teammate Nathan Paetsch is described here as being involved in a partnership that owned the Marina Restaurant and Bar.

Stay tuned. We're betting there's more to come in this story.

[H/T Pro Hockey Talk]

Dec 5, 2:28 PM

Lawyer: Wild's Vanek owed $10M in gambling debts, targeted in extortion plot

by Dec 5, 2:28 PM
Brace Hemmelgarn / Reuters

New alleged information has come to light in regards to Thomas Vanek's reported gambling issues.

Matthew Parrinello, an attorney representing New York bookmaker Joseph Ruff – the same man who implicated the Minnesota Wild forward in a money laundering scheme at an October court hearing – alleges Vanek was at one time quite deep in debt.

On top of that, Vanek may have been the target of an extortion plot masterminded by Ruff.

From Gary Craig of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

A local bookie, Joseph Ruff, on Friday admitted to extorting a $230,000 payment from Vanek as partial payment of gambling losses Vanek owed. After the plea, Ruff's attorney, Matthew Parrinello, said Vanek had owed upward of $10 million.

"He wasn't very good," Parrinello said of Vanek's gambling performance.

Ruff pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to illegal gambling, an extortion conspiracy and a money-laundering conspiracy. The target of the extortion plot was not identified in court but Parrinello later identified the individual as Vanek.

Vanek, who previously played with the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres, now plays for the Minnesota Wild.

Vanek played with the New York Islanders when he made the $230,000 payment. He endorsed over a team paycheck for the payment early this year.

Vanek's agent has since unequivocally denied the report of his client's extensive debt.

Feature photo courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn / Reuters

Nov 1, 2:12 PM

Wild's Vanek on gambling: 'I'm not proud of the decisions I've made'

by Nov 1, 2:12 PM

Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek says he regrets getting involved in an ongoing money laundering investigation.

"I'm not proud of the decisions I've made," Vanek told reporters Saturday. "But as a person, I just have to move on from it and learn from (my) mistakes.”

A defense attorney for a man who pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and conspiracy to launder money said the check his client helped launder came from Vanek when he played for the New York Islanders.

Vanek's agent, Steve Bartlett, issued a denial on Friday.

The forward said Saturday that Bartlett informed the Wild of the situation before the team signed him as a free agent on July 1.

Oct 31, 2:49 PM

Agent: Vanek not involved in illegal activity 'in any way, shape or form'

by Oct 31, 2:49 PM

The agent for Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek says his client isn't in danger of being charged after the winger was named in an ongoing money laundering investigation.

“Thomas is not in any way, shape or form involved in any illegal activities or in trouble here," agent Steve Bartlett told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune on Friday.

A defense attorney for a man who pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and conspiracy to launder money suggested the check his client helped launder came from Vanek when he played for the New York Islanders.

Bartlett elaborated about why he believes his client won't be charged:

If you read it quickly or you listen to his comments, it almost alludes to the fact that Thomas Vanek was involved in money laundering, which is totally false. He is not the subject of any investigation or criminal charges or anything whatsoever. He was a witness against this guy who was the bookmaker. He was the guy that wanted money and Thomas paid it to him. Thomas wasn’t involved in any bookmaking activities.

Bartlett added that Vanek merely bet on football games. The forward testified to this, his agent said.

Vanek left Friday's practice without comment.

- With h/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Oct 31, 8:31 AM

Wild's Vanek reportedly implicated in money laundering scheme

by Oct 31, 8:31 AM
Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Vanek may soon find himself in hot water.

Tied to a federal gambling investigation back in the summer, the Minnesota Wild forward is now believed to be involved in a related money laundering scheme, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

On Thursday, Mark Ruff - a New York-based bookmaker - pleaded guilty in federal court to illegal gambling and money laundering charges, while admitting that he helped manage a gambling operation in Rochester.

As part of the plea, Ruff's attorney - Joe Wolford - alleged his client's $230,000 gambling debt was covered by a paycheck signed by the New York Islanders.

The payment was made at the same time Vanek played for the Islanders.

Wolford did not confirm Vanek's involvement, but he did say he was surprised that Vanek's agent maintains his client was never involved in any wrongdoing.

Vanek previously played for the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres, and testified before a grand jury in July after being linked to Ruff's gambling operation.

Feature photo courtesy of Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

Jul 21, 8:52 PM

Wild 'are aware' of federal gambling investigation involving Vanek, 'have no further comment'

by Jul 21, 8:52 PM
Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

The Minnesota Wild released a succinct statement in light of the news that recently signed forward Thomas Vanek was in federal court Monday in relation to a federal gambling investigation, as per Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

Russo contacted NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, who said, "We are looking into it, but have no comment at this time."

Feature photo courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters