More details revealed in youth football gambling case
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- An undercover investigation takes us inside, what police call, an illegal betting operation involving a South Florida pee-wee football league. There's also disturbing new details about certain payments that were made, according to authorities.
The alleged ringleader, Brandon Bivins, bonded out of jail Wednesday. Bivins is accused of organizing a betting ring that at one point combined bets as much as $100,000 on a youth football game.
At the same time, the ESPN program whose investigation two years ago launched this criminal investigation, came up with even more shocking news. It turns out the scandal that has poisoned South Florida youth football is even worse than first thought.
An undercover officer said players as young as 9 years old were paid recruitment and performance bonuses as their coaches took bets on the outcome of the game. "It's just so unfortunate for the kids involved because most of them don't have any idea. They just want to be part of something. They just want to be a part of something positive."
Coach David Small and opposing team coach, Darren Boston, are even accused of taking bets in an end zone before a game against each other.
Video surveillance from 2011 caught coaches and others involved exchanging cash, which caused the Broward Organized Crime Task Force to launch the investigation. The man they wanted most was Bivins, the accused ring leader, who had $57,000 cash lying around at the time of his arrest.
Bivins has been convicted of nine felonies before this arrest. "He's been to Florida State Prison," said Broward Lieutenant Frank Ballante. "He's out now, and he's coaching youth football. So, you know what? This may be a little part of this investigation, but to us, Fort Lauderdale, City of Lauderhill, BSO, this is the beginning for us. We hope this spins up. One of the guys was convicted of trafficking cocaine. That's a minimum mandatory sentence in the state of Florida. In 15 years, he's out and he's coaching youth football."
All nine men deny any wrongdoing. "There's evidence of you betting on youth football games," said an ESPN correspondent.
"You got the wrong one," said an accused man, "You got the wrong one."
With so much going on in youth football, the Broward County Organized Crime Unit anticipates more arrests and have put up a Youth Football hotline where people can call in and provide tips to investigators. The hotline number is 954-888-5259.
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