Jail time for debt-owing high-roller

Sep 15, 2009 5:04 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

Another former high roller has filed for bankruptcy leaving an estimated $4 million in gambling debts.

The Las Vegas casinos holding the markers of William "Boots" Del Biaggio III were not identified as he was sentenced last week to eight years in prison by a San Francisco federal judge for bilking investors and banks out of millions of dollars in a desperate attempt to buy a professional hockey team.

Del Biaggio, scion of a prominent San Jose family, spent years as a high-rolling bon vivant who enjoyed jumping on his private plane to take him to Las Vegas for a gambling excursion.

But it was his desire to acquire a controlling interest in the Nashville Predators that caused his downfall. Using a stockbroker who owed him $2 million, Del Biaggio was able to acquire account statements of wealthy people that he falsified as his own. He then presented these false documents to banks and potential investors to generate the cash he needed for his hockey team acquisition.

In addition to his jail time, which begins in January, Del Biaggio must pay back eight banks and two NHL team owners a combined $47.5 million.

"Boots’" problems won’t end there. He also faces a lawsuit from the Securities & Exchange Commission seeking some $20 million he allegedly stole from individual investors to pay for personal expenses.

At his sentencing, Del Biaggio said he "was blinded by pride and ego" and refused "to let this define my life."

The federal judge commented that the jail sentence would have been longer but that Del Biaggio had cooperated with investigators once his fraud was discovered.

All his assets will be put up for sale including his stake in the Nashville Predators.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier