Ex-Sabre Paetsch pleads guilty in connection to gambling ring


Former Buffalo defenseman Nathan Paetsch has pleaded guilty for his role in an illegal gambling ring, per the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

Paetsch was accused by the government of recruiting hockey players and others to place bets, and also of aiding in the transmission of wagering information as well as collection of debts, according to papers read this morning in U.S. District Court in Rochester before Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr.

He agreed to plead guilty to two charges: transmission of wagering information and structuring a bank transaction to evade reporting requirements (all cash transactions in excess of $10,000 must be reported by banks).

Because of his cooperation and because he has no criminal record, federal sentencing guidelines allow the plea arrangement of the 8-month home detention and 400 hours of community service, though Judge Geraci is not bound to abide by the agreement.

Sentencing will be Aug. 31.

The Democrat & Chronicle also reports Paetsch must pay the U.S. government $265,000 as part of his punishment.

The gambling ring is the same operation Minnesota forward Thomas Vanek was connected to. Paetsch and Vanek were teammates in Buffalo for four seasons.

Vanek admitted to gambling and, last year, testified as part of the investigation after he reportedly endorsed a $230,000 New York Islanders paycheck to cover some of his debts.

Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, then flatly denied his client engaged in any illegal activity.

“[Vanek] was a witness against this guy who was the bookmaker,” Bartlett explained back in December. “He was the guy that wanted money and Thomas paid it to him. Thomas wasn’t involved in any bookmaking activities.

“Now people are like, ‘Oh, Thomas was a money launderer. That’s totally false. He was the bettor. He bet on football games. Obviously that’s what he was testifying to. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure that out.”

Following Bartlett’s remarks, Vanek addressed the gambling issue himself.

“I’m not proud of the decisions I’ve made,” he said, adding that he no longer gambles.