NHL star Thomas Vanek’s name has surfaced again in connection with a case involving an alleged illegal sports gambling ring and money laundering in Western New York.
According to New York lawyer Jim Wolford, representative of Mark Ruff, said that a $230,000 check “that was identified as far as the money laundering was a New York Islander check.” This whole situation came about while Vanek was still playing for the Islanders.
Vanek has been well aware of these accusations and has fully cooperative with investigators and has been one of the primary witnesses in the legal matter. According to Vanek’s agent Steve Bartlett, Vanek has only bet on football and the check was to pay off a gambling debt, but was not involved in laundering money in any way.
“He is not the subject of any investigation or criminal charges or anything whatsoever.” said Bartlett. “He was a witness against this guy who was the bookmaker. He was the guy that wanted money and Thomas paid it to him. Thomas wasn’t involved in any bookmaking activities.
Vanek’s agent has quick to defend his client and has assured everyone that Vanek is not the guilty party in this matter. “Now people are like, ‘Oh, Thomas was a money launderer. That’s totally false. He was the bettor. He bet on football games. Obviously that’s what he was testifying to. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure that out.”
Just like in any professional sport, it’s hard to do any thing in your personal life without getting accused for something or wind up in court for no good reason. I don’t condone gambling in any way, but from what I have read, it sounds like Vanek simply needed to pay off a gambling debt, so the bookkeeper cut the check to pay off the gambling debt. The check that was involved in money laundering came from the Islanders according to lawyer Jim Wolford and has just assumed it was from Vanek.
As of right now, the league will have no discipline for Vanek unless he is proven guilty in this matter and I don’t believe he will be. To me, this is just a story of a lawyer who’s trying to make himself look good and falsely accuse a man who had absolutely nothing to do with money laundering. Vanek will continue to help the investigation in any way he can. Hopefully this whole ordeal will not cause a decreased performance on the ice for Vanek and that he will keep his mind on hockey.