With Super Bowl 50 barely a week away, a San Francisco high school football star who played with the 49ers and then the Denver Broncos was one of 23 co-defendants named in a federal indictment alleging they ran a violent sports gambling and drug trafficking ring.
Derek Loville, an Archbishop Riordan High School graduate, was charged with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute narcotics in a RICO case filed in U.S. District Court.
The first native San Franciscan to make the 49ers opening-game roster since O.J. Simpson (who himself is in prison), Loville was signed to the 49ers in 1993 and took over the starting halfback position from rushing great Ricky Watters in the 1995 season.
According to a superseding indictment in the case, which was filed Jan. 12 and named Loville, he allegedly distributed drugs out of his Scottsdale home. Loville was not named in the original September 2015 indictment.
The indictment accuses Loville of trafficking methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. Specifically it alleges he trafficked narcotics on Sept. 24, 2014 and then transferred $1,150 in drug proceeds to Owen Hanson, a former University of Southern California football player.
An arrest warrant was issued for Loville on Jan. 13. He was in federal custody when he appeared in court Jan. 27.
The group of defendants were part of O-Dog Enterprise, allegedly led by Hanson, who was arrested in September for leading gambling and international money laundering and drug trafficking operations. The group was linked to Australian organized-crime figures and allegedly laundered money through the country.
Loville’s codefendants — whose aliases included “Tank, “Animal,” “O-Dog” and “Jazzy” — allegedly threatened people who would not pay their gambling debts.
Their alleged gambling site, www.betodog.com, whose slogan was “Where the big dogs play,” gave customers passwords and credit. But if they failed to pay, there were consequences, alleges the indictment.
The allegations include one case, where a customer could not fork over a $2.5 million gambling debt and the group made a series of threats against his family in response. Those threats included an email from October 2012 dubbed “Operation Shovel” that included a photograph with an altered family gravestone alluding to an untimely death for the debtor.
An investigation into Hanson was launched in Australia in 2011 after the discovery of a suitcase containing $700,000. The money was allegedly Hanson’s investment funds and later said to be proceeds from a Lenny Kravitz tour, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The man who was subject of the threats is known only as Robin Hood 702. He told the San Francisco Examiner that he alerted the Australian authorities and the FBI of the criminal activities of Hanson and his co-conspirators.
Loville’s lawyer did not respond to a call for comment.
After joining the 49ers in 1994, Loville was released from the team in 1997, but not before one San Francisco Examiner headline dubbed him “armed and dangerous” the year prior for continuing to barrel through the competition amid criticisms of his performance.
Loville later joined the Denver Broncos and played for the team during their Super Bowl wins in 1998 and 1999. Loville also won a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in 1994.
For an embattled league engulfed in recent seasons by high-profile criminal cases, this news is not the way NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might have wished to kick off Super Bowl 50.
Loville is a native of the city hosting the Super Bowl, a former player for the host franchise, the 49ers, a former player with the Broncos, one of competing teams in this year’s big game, and a former teammate John Elway, the Broncos legend who is vice president of the team’s football operations.
Goodell, who hasn’t had to deal with as many storms this season after a series of domestic violence dramas in the league, now has to address how a three-time Super Bowl champion could be among 22 people charged in a racketeering conspiracy involving drug trafficking, illegal gambling and money laundering.
Representatives from the NFL did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday.
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