Florida Keys

Accused of running sports gambling ring, man known as ‘Joe Weed’ arrested at Miami airport

A Keys man taken into custody at Miami International Airport on gambling charges ran a betting ring focused on NFL and college football games since at least 2009, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Joseph Patrick Clements, 55, who Keys jail records say is a computer tech for the Monroe County School District, is charged with bookmaking, a third-degree felony. He was released from the Miami-Dade County jail shortly after Friday’s arrest at the airport. The case will be prosecuted in Monroe County.

Clements, who lives on Big Coppitt Key, was arrested on Dec. 12, 2014, on two misdemeanor marijuana charges following a search of his Prado Circle house nine days prior after tips came in that there might be drugs in the house. While Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives were searching, they reportedly found gambling ledgers. That’s when the FDLE got involved and discovered what it says was a $10,000-a-week gambling operation.

According to a heavily redacted seven-page arrest affidavit, the FDLE discovered 14 gambling “reports” from a gambling website. About “20 code names were noted under the heading ‘player’ each week. Handwritten check marks were also noted beside the weekly balances showing a player’s credit or debt.”

There were also “nicknames and abbreviations with numbers encircled or in parenthesis. Plus and minus marks were also found [that] partially coincided with the nicknames found on the computer-generated ledgers.”

One of the purported bettors interviewed by state attorney’s investigator Millard Quad on Aug. 13 said he got interested in betting in 2012 and was put in touch with Clements, also known as Joe Weed. The bettor reportedly told Quad he would place bets by calling an 800 number and speaking with a live person about point spreads and odds. He said he placed bets of $50 to $100 a game over the phone.

Another purported bettor was interviewed on Oct. 13 and said he was introduced to Clements in 2009 at the Hog’s Breath Saloon in Key West. He reportedly bet 10 to 20 times a week, $500 to $2,000 weekly. He said his credit limit with the bookmaking operation was $1,000. If he lost more than that in a week, his account was shut down until it was settled.

Yet another purported bettor said he spoke about betting with Clements five years ago at a Key West bar and gave the same general information as the others about how to place wagers.