Nine people were arrested in an operation into illegal gambling on professional and college sports and youth football games in Broward County, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said that the 18-month investigation, called “Operation Dirty Play,” showed that coaches, team affiliates and the president of the South Florida Youth Football League were regularly betting on games.
Brandon Bivins, 36, a coach and president of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes, was the ringleader, and five of the nine arrested were affiliated with that team, authorities said.
Bivins has nine felony convictions, officials said in bond court Tuesday.
But he coached young football players every day, Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said.
"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," Lamberti said.
Two businesses, which served as gambling houses, were searched on Monday, the BSO said. Authorities said illegal bets were made at Red Carpet Kutz Barbershop at 1835 NW 38th Avenue in Lauderhill and at Showtime Sports and Apparel at 3685 NW 19th Street in Lauderdale Lakes.
"Gamblers would place bets on mostly professional and collegiate games at those locations, but detectives discovered many bets were placed on youth football games," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
Both businesses were locked and appeared to be empty on Tuesday. The telephone number at Showtime Sports and Apparel was busy, and a number couldn't be found for the barbershop.
The nine people involved have direct ties to the league and six of them have “extensive criminal histories,” according to the BSO.
They were charged with felony bookmaking and some of them were charged with keeping a gambling house, the BSO said.
According to the agency, the others involved are: Darron Lashawn Bostic, 29, coach of the Deerfield Beach Packer-Rattlers; Darren Jerome Brown, 41, coach and affiliate of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes; Brandon Marlon Lewis, 25, an affiliate of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes; Brad Donte Parker, 37, an affiliate of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes; La Taurus Tarmayne Fort, 35, coach of the Northwest Broward Raiders; Dave Constantine Small, 42, coach of the Lauderhill Lions; Willie Tindal, 36, coach of the Northwest Broward Raiders; and Vincent Gernard Gray, 42, coach of the Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes.
Tim Allen defended Bostic in bond court Tuesday, saying that he coached his son on a volunteer basis. Allen asked the judge to be lenient on Bostic.
"I think this is a big, big show," Allen said in court, adding that he thinks Bostic is "an amazing young man."
Bostic's lawyer was angry that six of the defendants were left handcuffed to chairs for hours in a BSO parking lot Monday.
"I've known this person for a year now, he's a good guy, and I've never had a person chained to a chair in the parking lot," Frank Chapman said.
The names of the attorneys for all the people arrested weren't immediately known.
"I think we have forgotten that these games and football and whatever sport that you're playing is about the kids having a good time," mother Mely Perez said Tuesday. "The kids enjoying and learning from us adults is what this is about and I think they're losing track of that."
Anyone with more information was asked to contact the BSO Organized Crime Unit’s youth football hotline at 954-888-5259.