Nine youth football coaches or associates from South Florida are in hot water after getting handed down felony charges with regards to illegal betting on youth football games.
First reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines, the individuals arrested on felony bookmaking charges include Brandon Bivins, Darren Brown, Vincent Gray, Brandon Lewis, Brad Parker, La Taurus Fort, Willie Tindal, Darron Bostic and Dave Small. The charges on these nine individuals were meted down by the Broward Sheriff’s Office after it concluded an 18-month investigation called “Operation Dirty Play”, one that was prompted by an initial OTL report back in May 2011 that showed what appeared to be flagrant betting during games in the South Florida Youth Football League.
Wrong as it already is to be engaging in illegal gambling operations, the fact that these people participated in this activity at the expense of young children is completely reprehensible. The investigators involved in the operation took great lengths to get in deep with the perps, even going as far as, placing actual bets undercover, including Detective Solomon Barnes, who personally placed bets on youth football games during the investigation. What they discovered was a system of elaborate, high-stakes gambling that took advantage of young children at the expense of making money.
“They take all innocence away from the game when they involve themselves in these criminal acts,” Barnes told OTL. “And it’s just mind-blowing what we discovered in this investigation.”
Even more egregious and downright deplorable was the discovery that even the coaches of these youth football teams were involved in the operation. Often times, the coaches are the ones that set point spreads on the games, including Brandon Bivins – one of the nine charged – who was coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes, one of the most successful youth football teams in South Florida.
Imagine being a parent of one of these kids and you find out that your son’s coach, the man who’s chief responsibility is to foster values in the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play to your son, is actually one of the ringleaders engaged in illegal gambling at the expense of your son. That’s pretty hard to stomach.
The investigation also discovered that Bivins also owned a barbershop which, unbeknownst to a lot of people, actually served as the front for a gambling parlor where the gambling ring was located. When police deputies raided the barbershop earlier this week, they discovered a floor safe inside the barbershop that had $37,000 in cash in it. That’s on top of the $20,000 – also in cash – and firearms that were found in Bivins’ house.
A number of the individuals charged have denied any involvement in the gambling operation, including coaches Dave Small and Darron Bostic. Bivins, who was arrested during a traffic stop on the Florida Turnpike, declined to comment.
In the wake of these arrests and the startling light that has been cast into the world of illegal gambling on youth football games in South Florida, investigators believe that this isn’t the only case of its kind out there. The objective, or at least the hope, of these arrests is to send a message that this type of activity will not be tolerated the least bit. Det. Barnes was also careful not to paint a vague picture on activities of most youth football coaches, pointing out that this activity doesn’t impune or endanger the reputation of the straight-arrow coaches.
“Do we have good coaches? Are there good coaching going on in the league? Absolutely. Is everyone involved in gambling on youth sports? Absolutely not,” Barnes said.
“But, the key guys that we’ve investigated? Yes, they will put whatever resources they have behind the teams that they consider their ‘money teams’ and they will go all the way to the Super Bowl.”
“They don’t involve themselves in this football because they care about kids or they want to be role models or mentors,” Barnes adds. “They do it for one reason and one reason only. They do it to line their pockets.”
This kind of gambling ring, especially one that involves treating kids and their performance on the football field for their capital gains is unfathomably pathetic. If these individuals are convicted of these crimes, nobody’s going to miss them.
We certainly won’t.