Exclusive: Boxes of wiretap evidence in gambling investigation with ties to former Amerk, Sabre Thomas Vanek

Updated: 07/22/2014 5:20 PM
Created: 07/22/2014 4:22 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

Law enforcement sources tell News10NBC that hockey star Thomas Vanek is connected to an ongoing illegal gambling investigation in Rochester. Tonight, News10NBC has new information about wiretaps used in the investigation and we asked a lawyer involved in the case -- did Thomas Vanek bet on hockey? 

The betting on hockey is one of the big issues here. An athlete betting on the sport that he or she plays would break one of the cardinal rules. Just ask Pete Rose. 

News10NBC talked to the lawyer representing one of the three men already indicted in the illegal gambling case. Matthew Parrinello says he has seen some of the evidence. 

Brean: Based on your knowledge of the case, was there any betting on hockey? 

Matthew Parrinello, defense attorney: From my knowledge, there was not any betting on hockey.

Brean: Other professional sports? 

Parrinello: Yes. 

Brean: But none on hockey.

Parrinello: Correct.

Parrinello is defending Joseph Ruff, one of three men accused of running an illegal gambling operation with ties to the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte. Law enforcement sources tell us Thomas Vanek is tied to that investigation. 

Vanek's agent, Steve Bartlett, says Vanek is simply a witness in the case and that is why he was at the federal court building in Rochester Monday morning. News10NBC was waiting for Vanek as he left the building. 

Brean: Can you tell us why you were here today?

Thomas Vanek: No comment. 

Joel Daniels, attorney: No comment. 

Brean: Were you involved in some kind of case? 

Daniels: No. Just no comment today. 

Thomas Vanek was a star for the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres for ten years. He was traded from Buffalo last October and signed a $20 million contract with Minnesota on July 1. That is where he lives now. 

Boxes of wiretap recordings

There are boxes of evidence in the gambling investigation sitting in Matthew Parrinello's office. He says in the boxes are wiretap recordings made over a nine day period around the Super Bowl this year. 

We wanted to know if Vanek is on those tapes. 

Parrinello: Wire tapes, computer records, bank records. 

Brean: He is on the wire taps? 

Parrinello: I don't know. I haven't reviewed the wire taps yet.

Brean: But the wiretaps would be recorded conversations of someone talking to someone else correct? 

Parrinello: Correct.

Parrinello says he is about to start going through that evidence, including the information on those wiretaps. 

To be clear, Thomas Vanek is not charged with any crime and he came to the federal court building voluntarily. His agent, Bartlett, told News10NBC he hasn't done anything wrong, he's not the target of any investigation and he's not under suspicion. 

Vanek released this statement Monday through his agent: 

"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." 

News10NBC contacted the National Hockey League Tuesday. The only comment we get from them is that they are looking into this connection with Vanek and have nothing else to say. 

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