Former Babson College soccer player charged with threats after sports betting losses
The suspect allegedly made racist death threats against athletes who he thought were the cause of his sports betting losses.
As state lawmakers wrapped up two days of discussions around legalizing sports betting, the U.S. attorney announced charges against a man who allegedly made racist death threats against athletes who he thought were the cause of his own sports betting losses.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling on Wednesday announced that Addison Choi, a 23-year-old former Babson College soccer player from California, is charged with one count of transmitting in interstate and foreign commerce a threat to injure the person of another for allegedly posting death threats to the Instagram accounts of at least 45 professional and college athletes between the end of July 2017 and the beginning of December 2017.
Lelling's office said Choi "gambled prolifically on sports" and "lost more money than he won." When he thought a team or a player was not playing well enough for him to win his bet, Choi would take to Instagram using a slew of burner accounts to post, in all capital letters, threats of death and violence against the players and their families.
"There is a difference between free speech – even hate speech – and intentionally putting others in fear for their lives," Lelling said. "Mr. Choi crossed that line. Based on today's charging document, and hiding behind the anonymity of social media, he threatened his victims in graphically violent, often racist terms."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said Choi "waged a very public campaign of intimidation against them, blaming them for his own prolific gambling losses. Let this case serve as another warning to others who think they can hide behind a keyboard and get away with making violent threats that put others in fear for their lives. Enough is enough."
According to MassLive, Choi has agreed to plead guilty and faces a recommended sentence of 21 to 27 months in prison.
A recurring topic at the two days of hearings on sports betting this week was the importance of maintaining the integrity of the underlying sports contests and keeping players, coaches, umpires, referees and others safe from potential harm when people have large sums of money riding a game.