Florida youth football coaches charged in 'Operation Dirty Play'

Broward Sheriff's Office: 9 men bet on little league games

Published On: Oct 31 2012 06:11:19 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 31 2012 06:32:30 AM CDT

Nine Florida youth football coaches were arrested for allegedly betting on the same games they coached. Three of those men posted bond Tuesday night.

According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, the arrests were the results of an 18-month investigation called "Operation Dirty Play."

Investigators said coaches, team affiliates, and the president of the South Florida Youth Football League, which has more than 7,000 players, routinely set point spreads prior to each game.

Below are a list of charges against the nine men:

Investigators said the coaches organized the bets and made the point spreads on the games.

"They're organized, they banded together, and you know what, they're operating a scheme," said BSO Lt. Frank Ballonte. "That's all it is. It's organized crime at a lower level."

BSO also served search warrants at two businesses that, investigators say, served as gambling houses.

According to investigators, Bivens was the ringleader and used his barbershop as a front for the gambling house.

"But he wasn't in it for the kids -- he was in it for the money. He even went to the length of setting up a fake barber shop in the City of Lauderhill that was really a bookmaking facility," said BSO Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Six of the nine men are ex-convicts with previous felony arrests for drugs, assault, and theft.

According to an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report, up to $20,000 was bet on some games. Video in the report showed men exchanging cash in the stands, on the sidelines, and at the entrance of games.

"From hundreds of dollars, ten dollars, till you hear thousands of dollars -- $10,000, $20,000 -- you may hear on a football game," said Pompano Beach Cowboys Head Coach Ron Thurston told ESPN. Thurston is also a BSO deputy.

"I was a kid. I didn't know what was going on," former player Rob Glover, now 23 years old, who took money while playing youth football, told ESPN. "People who don't know me just want to give me all kinds of cash and stuff. It was good at the time, but now I know it's a bad thing to do."

Glover didn't know it was a payoff from men who won bets on his performance.

"It was a $100 bill. He was like, 'Run it back, I'm going to give you this here. You run it back, I'm going to run down and give it to you,'" said Glover. "So, I ran it back for 99 yards, and, he ran back -- back of the end zone -- I ran by the coolers, he ran back and gave me a $100 bill."

PHOTOS: 9 face gambling charges

Published On: Oct 31 2012 06:11:54 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 31 2012 06:20:15 AM CDT
BSO: Football coaches bet on games

Booking photos of the nine men arrested in "Operation Dirty Play," an investigation by the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Brandon Bivins
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Booking photo of Brandon Bivins.