Nine South Florida coaches and associates have been arrested for allegedly betting on little league football games, capping off an 18-month investigation by the Broward Sheriff's Office, according to a report Tuesday morning from Paula Lavigne of ESPN.com.
$20,000 was bet in a rivalry game between the Northwest Broward Raiders and the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes a few weeks ago. And up to $100,000 would be bet on the youth leagues' final championship games of the season.
The men involved in the scheme had coached football for boys ages 5 to 15 and six of those men are ex-convicts with charges ranging from assault to drug-related felonies. If convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison for organized gambling:
"They take all innocence away from the game when they involve themselves in these criminal acts," the detective said. "And it's just mind-blowing what we discovered in this investigation."
According to the report, one of the coaches had reportedly accepted a "wad of cash" before the game in a handshake deal with another coach. He then took that cash, waved it in front of his own players and indicated how much money was at stake for their game.
Brandon Bivins, one of the men charged, was the coach of the Ft. Lauderdale Hurricanes. He is also the owner of a local barber shop in South Florida, where police say they witnessed more than 50 men enter on a recent Sunday morning and, instead of getting a haircut, had gone through a door in the back of the shop that led down a long hallway. At the end of the hallway were three windows where those men placed bets on everything from Major League Baseball, the National Football League and little league football.
According to police, betting was only part of the problem. Violence at the games among the coaches had also played a major role in indicting them:
"We've seen violence escalate at these games, we've seen shootings, we've seen fights, arguments between coaches and it's just so unfortunate for the kids that are involved because many of them have no idea. They just want to be a part of something that's positive."