Former USC football player Owen “O-Dog” Hanson was sentenced to 21 years and three months in prison on charges of drug trafficking and racketeering last Friday. The athlete-turned-drug-kingpin pleaded guilty to the charges in January.
In addition to the prison sentence, Hanson was subjected to a court-mandated forfeiture of $5 million in cash and all of his property, valued up to $20 million.
“It is difficult to understand how you got here,” U.S. District Judge William Hayes told Hanson in court Friday. “Other than greed.”
Hanson was arrested in 2015 after an ongoing FBI investigation into his crew, “O-Dog Enterprise,” which engaged in a number of illegal activities, including gambling and trafficking in drugs ranging from cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA and anabolic steroids.
“He ran his gambling business like drug dealers run the drug business,” a former customer told Rolling Stone in 2016. “If you’re short a little money they’ll kill you – that’s the attitude that he brought. It took all of us off guard. We are all educated … white dudes. We thought he was one of us, but he acted like an Italian gangster from Queens.”
Blackjack player Robert J. Cipriani was instrumental in helping to bring down Hanson and his group of enforcers, who went by nicknames like “Tank” and “Animal”; the Los Angeles-based cards player was first introduced to Hanson in June 2011, and went on to have a flush business relationship with the king pin. At the time, Cipriano told Rolling Stone, he thought Hanson was a legitimate, wealthy investor looking to front money for Cipriani’s charity gambling (Cipriani used the name Robin Hood 702 at blackjack tables, using his winnings to benefit those in need).
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But in August, when Hanson presented Cipriani with $2.5 million stuffed into two suitcases at a resort in Sydney, Australia, Cipriani suspected that something was amiss, and told Hanson he was no longer “comfortable” with the arrangement. He suspected that Hanson was using him to launder illegal funds, and wanted out.
Hanson’s demeanor turned icy, Cipriani recalled, and he casually mentioned that he knew where Cipriani and his “beautiful wife” lived in Santa Monica.
Then, the threats got more violent after Cipriani proceeded to blow through Hanson’s money – the former football player threatened to cut the gambler’s throat, and in 2013, sent Cipriani and his wife a DVD showing footage of two men being beheaded with a note: “If you don’t pay us our money, this will happen to you.”
The last straw, however, came when Hanson tracked down the gravestones of Cipriani’s parents and defaced the tombstones with red paint. Cipriani contacted the FBI, and Hanson was arrested in 2015.
In court Friday, Cipriani thanked the FBI for the “extraordinary job” they did keeping him and his wife, Brazilian actress Greice Santo, safe, and reiterated his claims against the king pin.
“Owen Hanson hired people to intimidate, threaten, hurt, kidnap and kill me and my wife,” he said. “What people also seem to forget are the countless lives that have been saved because the drugs that Owen Hanson was selling were also destroying, and polluting lives globally. … I stood up to him and would not be bullied or threatened in any way by him or his crew.”