Californian Owen “O-Dog” Hanson, the kingpin of an illegal gambling racket and cocaine ring smuggling drugs into Australia, understood how to collect a debt.
The FBI had monitored the muscle-bound ex-college football star and his crew of heavies as they used intimidation, threats and violence to haul in cash owed criminal underworld figures who did business with O-Dog Enterprise.
Now never-before-heard audio of the standover man threatening a gambler who lost $2.5 million in a botched money laundering operation at Sydney’s The Star casino has been released to nine.com.au.
Blackjack gambler RJ Cipriani and wife Greice Santo, a Brazilian model and actress. Source: Supplied
Unbeknownst to him, Cipriani was being recruited by Hanson as a money laundering agent for the multimillion-dollar profits of O-Dog’s drug trafficking into Australia.
Hanson, in tandem with Peruvian drug connections, imported a tonne of cocaine into Australia from South America, according to a source used by the FBI during their investigation into O-Dog Enterprise.
Cocaine boss Hanson had hoped Cipriani would run the dirty money through the tables at The Star and come out with a squeaky clean casino cheque.
But after Cipriani blew the whole $2.5 million, the debt collector began making a series of increasingly violent threats, seeking repayment of the missing millions.
Cipriani, who worked as an FBI source codenamed “Jackpot” in an investigation that ended with 22 arrests, including Hanson, recorded one of those menacing phone calls in 2012.
In that recording, obtained by nine.com.au, Hanson speaks about people getting killed for just $20,000, and he alludes to the debt being linked to malevolent forces south of the US border.
“Listen, you can talk but that debt’s not going away,” Hanson tells Cipriani.
Owen Hanson (left) handed RJ Cipriano $2.5 million stuffed inside two suitcases to gamble at Sydney’s The Star casino. The alleged cocaine kingpin’s plan was for high roller Cipriani to launder the money. Source: Supplied.
“If I get stiffed by someone, boom! That’s who I go after. That’s how I do business.”
Frustrated as the call continues, Hanson demands to know how the gambler intends to pay him back the enormous debt.
Cipriani, who described to nine.com.au how one of Hanson’s thugs was stationed outside his home intending to hurt him and his wife, tells Hanson that his methods are “way out of f—ing control” and “have gone overboard”.
“Listen, listen, listen,” responds Hanson.
“I’m not way overboard. People get killed over $20,000. So don’t tell me it’s way overboard.”
RJ Cipriani told nine.com.au he was connected to Own Hanson by a woman he used to date named Crista Velarde. Source: Supplied
During the 13-minute conversation, a woman named Crista Velarde is discussed several times, a central figure in the plot connecting Cipriani and Hanson.
Cipriani dated the “drop dead gorgeous” Ms Velarde around 2002, and the dark haired Latina beauty later married Hanson.
Though Cipriani and Ms Velarde stopped dating well over a decade ago, the pair from California remained friendly.
The high roller told nine.com.au how he introduced Ms Velarde to a Beverly Hills billionaire who owns a multi-national company in the entertainment industry.
During the call, Hanson explains to Cipriani that because “Crista” introduced the gambler to him, she is now ultimately responsible for the $2.5 million debt.
He also claims to no longer be married to Ms Velarde, which Cipriani told nine.com.au is “total bulls—”.
Greice Santo, RJ Cipriani’s wife, was sent a package containing a DVD showing two Mexican men being be-headed. Hanson’s crew made threats against the model and actress as they endeavoured to recoup $2.5 million lost at The Star. Source: Supplied
“[Crista] referred me to you and you’re a bad egg,” Hanson says.
“In my business … if someone refers someone who is a bad egg they’re on the hook and [Crista] knows that going into this.”
Hanson informs Cipriani “my people went after her” and that his no-nonsense crew was out to put their name on the title of one of Ms Velarde’s million-dollar properties.
“They did pressure her, they did talk to her,” Hanson says. “They saw the kids and they saw her and she’s already paid $300,000.”
Near the end of the conversation, Hanson drops a thinly veiled threat indicating Cipriani could be in danger from forces greater than him.
Hanson, who was arrested in June 2015, today pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute narcotics, and will serve 20 years in prison.