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Second former Sabre surfaces in gambling probe
Rochester, N.Y. - They were teammates as Amerks and Buffalo Sabres and now there are new questions about what role, if any, they have in an illegal sports betting operation.
Thomas Vanek, who now plays with the Minnesota Wild, voluntarily spoke with investigators at Rochester's Federal Building yesterday. 13WHAM News has learned his former teammate Nathan Paetsch also has ties to two of the two men who have been indicted and their restaurant.
Neither player has been charged with a crime, and neither appears to be the focus of what prosecutors allege is a $76 million dollar gambling operation.
Nathan Paetsch was drafted in 2003, played with the Amerks then four seasons in Buffalo. He is now with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In 2013, he claimed to be involved in a partnership with the owners of the Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte.
According to the restaurant's Facebook page, he appeared there last year with the Calder Cup. By that time, the federal investigation into gambling was already underway.
Authorities now allege payments were collected at the restaurant as part of an off-shore internet gambling operation managed by Paul and Jospeh Ruff, along with Ruff's brother Mark. Raids at the restaurant and two homes in Greece are part of an investigation that includes wire taps and a large amount of computer data.
Paetsch could not be reached for comment.
Former Sabres captain Thomas Vanek is being questioned because his name appeared on beting records that were seized.
"I am not the subject of the investigation or prosecution," he said in a statement Monday. "I will fully cooperate."
Vanek's agent Steve Bartlet added that his client is a witness and won't be charged with a crime because he hasn't done anything wrong.
The Wild issued a statement via Twitter: "We are aware of Thomas Vaek's cooperation with a federal investigation and have no further comment at this time."
The N-H-L does not ban players from legal betting on other sports but many personal contracts prohibit involvement in ring-type operations. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Minneapolis Tribune that the league is aware of the situation and looking into it. He had no further comment.
The federal investigation is ongoing and may involve other individuals and other charges.