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Ex-Sabre Nathan Paetsch pleads guilty in connection with illegal gambling ring

Nathan Paetsch didn’t just bet on sports. He encouraged and helped others to do the same.

The former Buffalo Sabre admitted as much as part of a plea agreement Monday outlining his role in an illegal gambling business.

Paetsch, 32, acknowledged receiving cash or credit from his bookies when friends and other players placed a wager with the offshore Internet betting service.

He also provided bettors with the current odds on sporting events, made arrangements for the collection of debts and kept bettors informed of their credit limits and balances.

“He had the integrity to accept responsibility and move on with his life,” said defense lawyer David R. Morabito of Rochester.

The news of Paetsch’s involvement with the gambling ring came just seven months after the disclosure of former Sabre Thomas Vanek’s wagering with the same betting service. Vanek reportedly lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions, because of his wagering on pro football.

Vanek, who is now with the Minnesota Wild, is cooperating with authorities and is not expected to be charged with a crime.

“My client had no involvement with Vanek,” Morabito said. “He never recruited him and was not involved with Vanek at all.”

For his part in the business, Paetsch will face eight months of home confinement, 400 hours of community service and the forfeiture of $265,000 when he is sentenced in August by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr.

Paetsch lives in Spencerport, outside Rochester, but has spent the past three seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, the top minor league affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola said Paetsch’s conviction is linked to his involvement with three other defendants in the gambling case, including two brothers, Mark and Joseph Ruff of Connecticut.

Mark Ruff was recently sentenced to nine years in prison. Joseph Ruff got 41 months. A fourth defendant, Paul Borrelli, 66, of Rochester, is still awaiting sentencing.

In acknowledging his role in the business, Paetsch pleaded guilty to two charges, transmission of wagering information and structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements.

The second conviction covers the allegation that Paetsch, on multiple occasions between January 2010 and June 2014, withdrew and deposited money in amounts less than $10,000 in order to hide proceeds from the gambling ring.

Prosecutors say Paetsch was aware that banks are obligated by law to report transactions in excess of $10,000.


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