A gambler and college soccer player from Massachusetts has agreed to plead guilty to charges that he sent violent and racist threats to certain athletes after he lost money betting on their games.
Per MassLive, 23-year-old Addison Choi, a California native who played soccer at Babson College in Massachusetts, has pled guilty to a federal count of transmitting threats in interstate commerce and faces 21-27 months in prison. He also faces three years of supervised release, restitution, and a fine of $250,000, the government said.
Choi, the site said citing court filings, would wager and lose massive amounts of money, and then send threats to the athletes that he believed were responsible, and sometimes to the athletes’ family members as well. The threats were mostly made on Instagram, and Choi threatened more than 40 accounts on the network throughout the second half of 2017.
It has not been revealed exactly which athletes were threatened by Choi, although the report stated that he bet on both college and professional sports. It’s also not clear if he bet on his own games when he played college soccer.
“When Choi thought that a team or player he had bet on was not performing well enough during a game for Choi to win his bet, Choi threatened those players or teams with death,” per a court filing cited by MassLive.
The threats were sometimes of a racist nature, including one occasion when he threatened an athlete and his family that he would “hang them on a tree.” On another occasion, Choi threatened to skin an athlete’s family alive.
Sports gambling: Addison Choi pleads guilty to threatening athletes https://t.co/OXLp9XqoGO
— Shirley Blackmon (@Blessingohfaith) May 30, 2019
In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts made clear that such threats are illegal.
“There is a difference between free speech – even hate speech – and intentionally putting others in fear for their lives,” United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “Mr. Choi crossed that line. Based on today’s charging document, and hiding behind the anonymity of social media, he threatened his victims in graphically violent, often racist terms.”
Choi’s page on the Babson athletic department website has been taken down, but according to the archived version, he played soccer for the team in 2015, he appeared in 19 of 21 matches for the school’s soccer team as an outside back. He scored no goals but made one assist.
A gambler from Australia was arrested in 2010 for threatening to kill a horse, after the gambler forgot to place his syndicate’s bet, per ABC.net.