clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Flashy gambler pleads guilty to $9.6M wire fraud scheme

Robert Gorodetsky was charged just last month and was the subject of a lengthy and colorful USA Today profile.

Robert Gorodetsky, 27, of Northbrook, walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after pleading guilty in a $9.6 million wire fraud scheme, Wednesday , Feb. 5, 2020.
Robert Gorodetsky, 27, of Northbrook, walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after pleading guilty in a $9.6 million wire fraud scheme, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Robert Gorodetsky once wore a $6,000 hoodie, $2,500 high-top shoes and a $47,000 Hublot watch to meet up with a newspaper reporter.

While being shadowed by USA Today Sports for the article that would follow, the Chicago-area man reportedly wagered “well over $1 million” on sporting events.

But Wednesday, Gorodetsky’s defense attorney told a judge his client is “very soft-spoken.” The judge had to tell Gorodetsky to speak up as Gorodetsky pleaded guilty to a $9.6 million wire fraud scheme that could land him in prison for five years or more.

Later, Gorodetsky tried to slip by photographers in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse lobby. He ditched his trademark glasses and pulled up the hood of his coat before being chased by a Sun-Times photographer across State Street.

His attorney, Chris Gair, had earlier declined to comment.

Gorodetsky, 27, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false income tax return before U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo, who set his sentencing hearing for April 29. Details in his plea agreement largely mirrored the allegations in a charging document filed against him last month.

A lengthy USA Today profile in 2017 described Gorodetsky as having “emerged as one of the most compelling and controversial, albeit largely unknown, figures in sports.” It said Gorodetsky and his inner circle thought he could go on to be “America’s leading sports bettor.” And the newspaper titled the article, “Is this the future face of sports gambling?”

It described him “canoodling with beautiful women” and “sharing photos of himself with athletes such as Odell Beckham Jr. and celebrities such as Drake.” It also described his pricey clothing and high-stakes gambling.

The USA Today article said he went to New Trier High School in Winnetka before enrolling at the University of Arizona. Gorodetsky told Bucklo on Wednesday that he lives in Chicago.

Gorodetsky’s Twitter profile once bragged, “I Bet $27 Million in Sports Bets in 2017,” and it included a link to the USA Today story. His Twitter feed was full of pictures of betting slips.

Days after the USA Today story, Gorodetsky told the newspaper he had been banned by Las Vegas casinos and said, “I’m banned for life basically from Vegas . . . My life is over basically, but nothing I can do.”

Still, in 2019, the website SportsBettingDime.com included Gorodetsky’s Instagram account in its “Top 5 Sports Betting Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow Today.”

But Gorodetsky has now admitted he swindled millions of dollars out of a single investor between 2014 and 2018. The investor has been identified only as “Individual A.”

Gorodetsky promised in February 2014 to pool the investor’s money with his own funds to make stock market investments, agreeing they would share in the profits and losses. The investor handed over $953,000. Gorodetsky put just $215,000 of that in an E*TRADE account and put the remaining $737,388 to “personal use.” Gorodetsky had no money of his own to invest.

In July 2014, Gorodetsky told the investor his $953,000 had grown to $2 million — when the actual value of the investments had dipped to $71,388. Gorodetsky told the investor he planned to begin using the money to bet on sports, where he expected greater returns.

Then, between July 2014 and November 2017, Gorodetsky convinced the investor to turn over another $8.74 million to be gambled on sports. But the bulk of that money was actually used “for purposes unrelated to wagering on sports contests,” including $2.2 million to pay living, travel and entertainment expenses, as well as for “luxury automobiles and jewelry.”

Gorodetsky also admitted he claimed on his 2016 income tax return that his total income was just $10,520, even though he conned at least $2.5 million out of the investor that year. In all, $7.1 million of the money swindled out of the investor went to Gorodetsky’s “personal benefit.”