Former Amerk and Sabres star Thomas Vanek connected to ongoing federal gambling investigation

Updated: 07/22/2014 8:44 AM
Created: 07/21/2014 5:21 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

A new development in the ongoing federal gambling investigation in 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. 

On Monday morning, News10NBC got a call saying Vanek walked in the federal court building downtown. When he and his lawyer walked out two hours later, we had a crew there waiting to talk to the hockey star.

Let's be clear. Thomas Vanek is not charged with any crime and he voluntarily came to the federal court building with his lawyer. But our law enforcement sources say he's connected to that gambling investigation. 

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.

Vanek and his lawyer had no interest in talking to us. But after our brief conversation, we confirmed through law enforcement sources that Vanek was at the court building Monday because he is connected to the ongoing gambling investigation centered on the Marina Restaurant and Bar. Three men, including restaurant co-owners Paul Borrelli and Joseph Ruff are facing 23 counts of illegal gambling. 

And we asked Vanek and his lawyer about that today. 

Brean: Is he connected to that? 

Daniels: No comment.

Thomas Vanek was a star with the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres for 10 years. He was traded from Buffalo last October and signed a $20 million contract with the Minnesota Wild on July first. 

Brean: You know Thomas is a well-known hockey player in Western New York. Lots of fans of his. They would want to know why he's in federal court. So what would you say to his fans? 

Daniels: We have no comment right now. Nothing to talk about.

Late Monday afternoon, News10NBC received a statement from Vanek and his lawyer through Vanek's agent, Steve Bartlett. 

"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.

In a phone conversation, Bartlett said Vanek is simply a witness in a federal case. He wouldn't say which one. Bartlett said Vanek is not the target of anything, he is not under suspicion and has done nothing wrong. 

Bartlett says Vanek was at the federal court building Monday to talk to someone about his role as a witness. 

We called the U.S. Attorney's office about this and just like Vanek and his lawyer Monday morning, the U.S. Attorney William Hochul had no comment. 

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