Iowa athletes file federal suit against sports betting investigators

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A group of 26 athletes from Iowa and Iowa State University are suing the state for its allegedly unconstitutional investigation into their sports betting activity.

Lawsuit alleges 4th and 14th Amendment violations

In a federal complaint filed in the Southern District of Iowa, the group claimed the state of Iowa, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and individual DCI employees Stephan Bayens, Paul Feddersen, David Jobes, Troy Nelson and Brian Sanger violated their 4th and 14th Amendment rights with warrantless searches and unlawful seizures.

Per the complaint, the athletes allege that the DCI launched a sports betting investigative division in 2021. As part of an investigation conducted in tandem with the state of Illinois, the DCI became aware of GeoComply’s geolocation tech and how it can be used to identify fraudulent activity and pinpoint when betting is taking place from a restricted location such as a prison or a school.

Before DCI was able to utilize this software, GeoComply expressly sought the permission of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) and requested licensure so that information from the company could be turned over directly to DCI without a warrant.

Agent allegedly overstepped use of GeoComply betting data

IRGC granted GeoComply permission to share data with the investigative unit. Sanger, who worked as a special agent for DCI, began using the pinpoint technology to look at betting activity specifically at Iowa University and Iowa State University. Since GeoComply data did not include names, only account numbers, Sanger had DCI subpoena those operators for names attached to the accounts.

Using that information, the group began to interrogate and arrest a number of athletes, including NFL player Eyioma Uqazurike and ISU starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers. During some of these investigations, the DCI confiscated suspects’ cell phones based on the evidence Sanger discovered.

As previously reported, while several athletes pleaded guilty to charges, eventually law enforcement dropped charges against four of the athletes after concerns arose that Sanger had overstepped the scope of the investigation.

The lawsuit names Sanger, the agency, and key leadership personnel, arguing that the group failed to adequately train and supervise its agents.

The defendants in the case include those who plead guilty as well as those who never had charges formally filed against them but arguably suffered because of lost eligibility with their athletic programs and time away from the teams.