L.A. Times- The FBI agents arrived in Las Vegas with $135,000 and a plan. They took over a sprawling penthouse at the Cosmopolitan, filled the in-room safe with government cash and stocked the wet bar with alcohol. Hidden cameras — including one installed near a crystal-encrusted wall in the living room — recorded visitors. In the heart of a city known for heists and hangovers, the four agents were running an undercover operation as part of their probe into college basketball corruption that investigators code-named Ballerz.
My first move after reading this article was to send in an application to be an FBI agent because this sounds like a dream job. My second move was to blog this story because I made a promise after football season that I would get back on the blogging grind.
Now, here’s a quick summary for people that don’t want to read the article:
A few FBI agents flew out to Las Vegas as a part of their larger investigation into college basketball coaches and schools paying recruits under the table. This investigation is what led to the firing of Will Wade at LSU as well as other fines and firings across college basketball. During this investigation into the misappropriation of funds, the FBI agents on the case decided to spend over $100,000 of government money on hotels, alcohol, and gambling.
Their goal was to meet some college coaches out in Vegas and party with them and basically to try to trick them into admitting some shady business or to get them to agree to an illegal deal of some kind. So naturally, their first move was to rent a private cabana at a Vegas pool party. Once you do that, you then HAVE to reach the minimum required at the cabana. So basically to start this investigation they got wasted on Vodka Red Bulls while Tiesto played a set at the Encore Beach Club.
Then they decided to hit the high-roller room in the casino (basketball coaches won’t be on the floor with normal people duh). When you are in the high-roller room you have no choice but to hit more minimums, so one agent, Scott Carpenter, ended up gambling $13,000 in government money. It seemed like he burned it all playing blackjack and losing a lot (we’ve all been there) while pounding free drinks at the table. I can’t imagine the free feeling of playing blackjack with taxpayer money. The dealer is showing a face card and I have seven? Double it, who gives a shit. Two tens?? I’m splitting every time.
Here’s where it gets really good. Scott Carpenter then tried to convince the other agents on the investigation that they needed to create a fake story about how gambling was essential to the investigation so that he wouldn’t get in trouble. Once the post-casino hangover hit, he knew he was in deep shit but the boys didn’t have his back and he ended up getting charged with illegal use of funds and getting fired.
In the end, their supervisor somehow wrote this off as a successful mission despite the fact that no coaches or schools were ever charged with anything and they spent more time with Steve Aoki than Steve Alford. All they did was waste boatloads of government money and tricked a couple inconsequential people into doing some dumb shit so that they could slap a couple pairs of handcuffs on people that we’ve never heard of.
Now, college basketball players are allowed to make money which makes this case seem like an even bigger waste of time than it already was. Which is why my final takeaway is that working for the government in any capacity seems awesome. You just have an endless supply of money and they so desperately want to seem like they are doing something that you can do the bare minimum and they will chalk it up as a win. Also, my next trip to Vegas won’t be complete unless (former) Agent Scott Carpenter agrees to come along.