Private investigator gets prison for role in drug ring run by former USC athlete

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SAN DIEGO — A Los Angeles-based private investigator was sentenced in San Diego Monday to 16 months in federal prison for his role in the gambling and drug organization run by former University of Southern California walk-on football player Owen Hanson.

Daniel Portley-Hanks, 71, pleaded guilty to extortion last December.

According to his plea agreement, Portley-Hanks was paid $7,000 by Hanson to drive from Los Angeles to a Pennsylvania cemetery where the family burial plot of an individual who owed Hanson’s organization money was located.

Once there, Portley-Hanks took photographs of the family tombstone, splattered it with red paint, and later altered the photos to add the targeted individual’s name and the words “Very Soon” as the date of death, according to court documents.

Another photo was altered to include an image of a masked Hanson standing over the family grave with a shovel, prosecutors said.

The photos and other documents created by Portley-Hanks were then mailed to the individual along with a video depicting two beheadings, according to the plea agreement.

Hanson, 34, pleaded guilty in January to racketeering and drug-trafficking conspiracy charges. Hanson, a walk-on to the USC football team in 2004 as a tight end, faces at least 20 years in prison when he is sentenced.

The government’s sentencing documents on Portley-Hanks’ case attached numerous emails between Hanson and Portley-Hanks that showed that for a period of more than three years, Portley-Hanks assisted Hanson’s organization by running background and location checks on gamblers and law enforcement officers, conducting surveillance, and connecting Hanson with Jack Rissell, another co-defendant who served as an “enforcer” for Hanson’s enterprise.

Rissell — who also pleaded guilty to extortion — is scheduled to be sentenced July 31.

In total, 21 of 22 defendants charged in relation to Hanson’s enterprise have pleaded guilty.

The case arose out of a joint investigation by the FBI and the New South Wales (Australia) Police Force in conjunction with the New South Wales Crime Commission. Hanson was initially indicted and arrested on Sept. 9, 2015, after arranging the delivery of five kilograms each of cocaine and methamphetamine.

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