Nine Florida youth football coaches arrested on gambling charges
Deerfield Beach, FL, United States (4E Sports) – Nine South Florida Youth Football League coaches or associates have been charged with felony in an alleged connection with a system of rampant, elaborate and high-dollar gambling on little league football.
Among those arrested and charged with bookmaking was Brandon Bivins, coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes. Also charged were Darren Brown, Vincent Gray, Brandon Lewis, Brad Parker, La Taurus Fort, Willie Tindal, Darron Bostic and Dave Small.
Six of the nine men who coached boys ages 5 to 15 are ex-convicts with a history of felony drug, assault and theft charges. They could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
The alleged charges stemmed from an 18-month investigation, dubbed as “Operation Dirty Play”, by the Broward Sheriff’s Office into gambling on youth football.
“They take all innocence away from the game when they involve themselves in these criminal acts,” Detective Solomon Barnes said. “And it’s just mind-blowing what we discovered in this investigation.”
Barnes said his confidential informant, along with undercover deputies, placed bets on youth football games during the course of the investigation.
He said a $20,000 bet was placed 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’ championship games of the season, he said.
Barnes said coaches were the ones promoting and organizing the bets and setting point spreads on games involving multiple youth football leagues.
The detective said he personally witnessed two coaches taking bets on the sidelines of a game involving their own teams while another waved a wad of cash in front of the players to underscore how much was riding on them.
Bivins was coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes, one of the most successful youth football teams in South Florida. An affidavit describes Bivins as the owner of a barbershop that served as the front for the gambling parlor frequented by several other coaches.
“At the end, maybe close to about practice time, he would leave there and drive straight to Mills Pond Park, grab his whistle and start coaching the kids,” Barnes said.
Bivins also has a long rap sheet, with eight felony convictions in Florida alone, including aggravated armed assault, cocaine possession and grand theft. Barnes said the conflict is troubling.
“You’re really taking the integrity out of the game. I mean, these are innocent kids at this point and that’s all they know … They’re going to take pride in their team, not knowing that the president, the head of your team, is involved in all kinds of illegal activity,” Barnes said.
Sheriff Al Lamberti said deputies discovered a floor safe in Bivins’ barbershop that had $37,000 in cash in it. He said that $20,000 in cash — along with firearms – was found in Bivins’ house.
“These are coaches who are nothing more than criminals,” Lamberti said. “It’s about kids being exploited. Bivins wasn’t in it for the kids, he was in it for the money.”
Florida Youth Football League president Martin Maultsby said that he was unaware of the arrests and that no one had contacted him.
“What I plan on doing is contacting who’s next in line to administer that program,” he said. “First and foremost we’re dealing with these kids, and that’s where my concerns is. I’ll be contacting who is next in line.”
Despite the arrests, Barnes said the incident should not taint all of South Florida youth football.