A National Football League player, who allegedly ran up $389,000 in betting debts, reportedly has aided the FBI in investigating four men charged with illegal gambling.
The Boston Globe, in a story quoting two sources close to the FBI investigation, identified the player as Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter, who played at Ohio State.
One of the Globe's sources said Schlichter has told authorities he did not bet on NFL games, and was not involved in trying to fix any games involving the Colts.
The Baltimore Evening Sun said the player, whom it did not identity, told FBI agents the men were charging him at least $10,000 a week in interest on his bets on basketball games.
The Evening Sun said the player went to the FBI after the gamblers allegedly threatened to tell his employer about his betting. The player reportedly allowed the FBI to record telephone conversations he had with the gambling suspects.
The FBI then formulated a plan, the Globe reported, telling Schlichter to inform the men he now had the money and he would give it to them if they came to Columbus, Ohio, to collect it in person.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Columbus said yesterday that Harold E. Brooks Jr., Joseph A. Serio and Charles T. Swift (all of Baltimore) were arrested April 1 in Columbus, and Samuel A. Alascia (of Catonsville, Md.) at the same time in Baltimore.
Indictments, with six counts relating to gambling, were handed down yesterday by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Columbus. Brooks, Serio, Swift and Alascia were named.
Ernie Accorsi, general manager of the Colts, said, "We are aware of a situation, but other than that, we have no comment."
In a statement released through the Colts' public relations office, the NFL officials confirmed it was cooperating with federal authorities and said, "We are aware of the government's investigation of a gambling matter that involves an NFL player."
NFL spokesman Joe Browne declined to confirm that Schlichter was the player. Attempts to contact Schlichter or independently confirm the reports were unsuccessful.