Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek’s name was once again brought up in an alleged gambling ring, this time after a bookmaker pleaded guilty in federal court to illegal gambling and money laundering a $230,000 gambling debt, reports the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Vanek was linked to a gambling investigation during the summer, which centered around three owners (Mark Ruff, Joseph Ruff, and Paul Borrelli) of a Rochester, N.Y., bar that was raided after authorities suspected the men were running an illegal gambling business that used offshore Internet gambling websites.
Mark Ruff will receive a sentence of nine years under the plea agreement.
Vanek’s ties to the area stem from him spending nine seasons in the Buffalo Sabres organization and with the Sabres’ American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester.
According to the report, attorney James Wolford said that the gambling debt payment was made with a New York Islanders check around the same time that Vanek played for the Islanders. Vanek spent last season with the team before signing a three-year deal with Minnesota this past offseason. The total of the debt was more than $1 million, the paper said.
Wolford said he was surprised that Vanek’s agent denied any wrongdoing. Wolford and an assistant U.S. attorney refused to say if Vanek endorsed the salary check, which was used to cover gambling wagers.
Vanek said he testified before a grand jury and said that he was not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. But the Democrat & Chronicle reports that Vanek’s name turned up in records seized from the alleged bookmakers.
Vanek has seven assists in nine games this season, including two assists in the Wild's 4-3 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
- Scooby Axson