TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A sports gambler faces up to five years in federal prison for threatening social media messages sent to players with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Benjamin Tucker Patz, 24, of Napa, California, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Tampa federal court to transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce, according to court records. No sentencing date was immediately set.

Patz was initially charged last year. He had made numerous violent threats in 2019 against athletes and their family members through anonymous Instagram accounts, according to a criminal complaint. In many messages, Patz threatened to enter the athletes’ homes and behead them or their family members, the FBI said. Some of Patz’s threats also contained derogatory terms and racial slurs, investigators said.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost a home baseball game in July 2019 to the Chicago White Sox. An account linked to Patz later sent threatening Instagram messages to four players for the Rays and one player for the White Sox, according to authorities. None of the players were identified by name, only initials.

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