Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Former USC Footballer Sentenced to 21 Years as 'Crime Boss'

A drug kingpin being sentenced to decades behind bars sounds pretty ordinary. But Owen Hanson was no ordinary kingpin.

The former high school volleyball standout and University of Southern California football walk-on turned his notoriety and personality into illegal gambling and drug trafficking enterprises, according to federal prosecutors. And a federal judge has now sentenced Hanson to 21 years and three months in prison.

From Gridiron to Gangster

Hanson pleaded guilty in January to racketeering conspiracy and drug-trafficking conspiracy charges relating to a vast, international criminal empire, including an offshore gambling operation and a drug ring that trafficked hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and Ecstasy, and even sold performance-enhancing substances to professional athletes.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the former real estate developer had broken very, very bad after his playing days were over:

In the guilty plea, Hanson admitted to founding and overseeing ODOG Enterprises, a gambling operation based in Peru and Central America, with clients throughout the U.S. Hanson hired bookies, runners and enforcers to place bets, collect losses and, if necessary, use violence against those who wouldn't pay up, according to court documents.
He also admitted to building a drug-trafficking network that imported, exported and distributed drugs at wholesale and retail value throughout the U.S. and Australia.

Hanson was ultimately taken down after threatening a professional gambler who foiled his plan to launder millions in drug-trafficking proceeds through Sydney, Australia casinos.

Very, Very Long

"It's hard to understand, Mr. Hanson, how you ended up here," U.S. District Judge William Hayes noted during sentencing, "other than greed." Hayes' sentence exceeded even that requested by prosecutors in the case, who pointed to the vast amounts of money involved in Hanson's operation.

"By anyone's definition, Mr. Hanson was at the top," Hayes added, "and he was at the top a very, very long time." Perhaps that's the reason for his very, very long prison sentence.

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