© The Oklahoman, 2012
A co-owner of the Tulsa Talons has admitted to the FBI that he was a gambler who dealt with Oklahoma City sports “bookie” Teddy Mitchell, The Oklahoman has learned.
Paul Alexander Ross, 52, confirmed Wednesday he told FBI agents that he and a group of friends bet online on sporting events and dealt with Mitchell. “We were stupid,” he said.
The Tulsa Talons was an Arena Football League team that played in Tulsa for years before being sold after the 2011 season. The team now plays in San Antonio and is known as the San Antonio Talons.
“I'm not hiding the fact that I and some of my buddies used me as the point guy to bet and we bet with this guy, Teddy Mitchell. I don't know any more than that,” Ross told The Oklahoman on Wednesday. “We lost money.”
Ross said he does not think he did anything wrong and never bet on Arena Football League games. He does not face any charges.
Mitchell, 58, is awaiting trial in Oklahoma City on a federal indictment that alleges he ran an illegal gambling enterprise.
“I placed some bets with him, yes, myself and a group, yes,” Ross said in a phone interview.
“There was a group of us that were using the site,” he said. “I've never met him. It was set up for me and some buddies through another guy that I knew. … We didn't do very good. We weren't very good at what we were doing there. It wasn't just me. It was a group and I was kind of the guy that paid it.”
He said his group bet on college football games, NFL games and baseball games. He said the group “lost our butts.”
Ross said he has no ownership interest in the San Antonio Talons. The San Antonio Talons chief operating officer, Keith Recine, said Ross is still a minority owner.
The Oklahoman contacted Ross after the FBI reported in an 84-page court affidavit that Paul A. Ross wrote Mitchell a $12,080 check. An FBI agent said the check appears in Mitchell's records as a gambling payment.
The FBI agent reported Mitchell deposited the check in 2009.
FBI agents reported interviewing Ross in October 2011, a source told The Oklahoman. The agents reported Ross was with the Tulsa professional arena football team.
The agents reported Ross acknowledged gambling online and writing checks to cover his losses, the source said.
Ross is an entrepreneur who has been involved in a number of businesses. He said he currently runs a small, private investment company and lives in Arizona.
In the interview Wednesday with The Oklahoman, Ross said he wrote maybe four or five checks to Mitchell in 2009 and 2010 and received one from Mitchell.
“The FBI said, ‘You guys aren't very good at this …' I said, ‘Absolutely. We were terrible.' I had a buddy who thought he was good on baseball and I was along for the ride,” Ross said.
He said he may have seen Mitchell one time when Mitchell delivered cases of energy drinks to the Tulsa Talons.
A federal grand jury in September indicted Mitchell, two of his sons, six other men and a Costa Rican company. A trial is set for April.
Mitchell is accused in the federal case of operating an illegal gambling enterprise that took in millions of dollars. He is accused of both hosting illegal high-stakes poker games at his home and illegally taking bets on sporting events.
Mitchell has pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney has said he is a professional gambler who acted legally and paid taxes on his gambling income.
The FBI agent described Mitchell in the affidavit as a sports “bookie” who has been engaged in illegal gambling activity from at least 1990 until November 2010 when his wife was brutally beaten to death.
Before Wednesday, Ross had denied to the media any involvement with Mitchell. In a phone interview Friday, Ross told The Oklahoman he never bet on sporting events and never sent Mitchell any checks.