Sean Patrick Griffin, Ph.D., is Professor and Department Head of Criminal Justice at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. He was formerly Associate Professor/Professor in Criminal Justice at Penn State Abington (2003-2014) and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Clemson University, South Carolina (2000-2003). His research areas are organized crime, white-collar crime, labor racketeering, corruption, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and various aspects of policing.
Dr. Griffin is the author of two books on African-American organized crime, including the best-selling Black Brothers Inc., The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia (Milo, 2005/07). In 2007, Black Entertainment Television (BET) based an episode (“Philly Black Mafia: ‘Do For Self’”) of its popular “American Gangster” series on Black Brothers, Inc. Dr. Griffin was an interview subject and consultant for the episode, which is now re-broadcast on the History Channel and A&E Network, among others. A strong and outspoken advocate of public scholarship, he has developed and implemented coursework regarding securities fraud and enforcement for audiences of professionals (i.e., attorneys and accountants), and is well into the research and writing of a book on stock fraud.
A former Philadelphia police officer, Dr. Griffin commonly lends his expertise to an assortment of entities and individuals, including but not limited to: local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies (especially in re: organized crime, extortion, narcotics trafficking, tax evasion, and money laundering,); regulatory agencies (especially in re: gaming and stock fraud); social service agencies (especially in re: policing and violence against women); and print, radio, and television outlets throughout the U.S. (primarily in re: organized crime, white-collar crime, and related topics). Professor Griffin has conducted research in the Netherlands on numerous occasions, focusing on such issues as the international trade in women, transnational organized crime, vice laws and enforcement, and the impact of immigration on the Dutch criminal justice system. He has appeared as an invited panelist for several forums on public policy, is a frequent guest on various local and national radio and television programs, and has been interviewed/featured extensively in print media.
Professor and Department Head of Criminal Justice at The Citadel. His research areas are organized crime, white-collar crime, labor racketeering, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering, and aspects of policing. Author of numerous peer-reviewed academic articles, Dr. Griffin penned the critically-acclaimed text Philadelphia’s Black Mafia: A Social and Political History (Springer, 2003), and the best-selling, more mainstream Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia (Milo, 2005/2007). Most recently, Professor Griffin authored the best-selling Gaming the Game: The Story Behind the NBA Betting Scandal and the Gambler Who Made It Happen (Barricade, 2011), which has been discussed in numerous academic and media forums. Professor Griffin’s other research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and has been widely discussed in various media. He has also developed and implemented continuing education seminars for law enforcement officials regarding organized crime in addition to coursework regarding securities fraud and enforcement for audiences of professionals (i.e., attorneys and accountants), and is also well into the research and writing of a book on stock fraud.
Professor and Department Head of Criminal Justice, Dr. Griffin came to The Citadel in 2014, joining the criminal justice faculty to teach courses on organized crime, white-collar crime, international narcotics trafficking, American policing, and others. A highly active researcher, Professor Griffin has authored peer-reviewed articles on the following topics: police legitimacy, police abuse of force, the social construction of white-collar crime, securities frauds, international narcotics trafficking and money laundering, political corruption, and organized crime.
Abington professor’s new book exposes NBA betting scandal
– By Nancy McCann
Posted on 2/17/2011
Sean Patrick Griffin, associate professor of criminal justice at Penn State Abington and critically acclaimed author, soon will be busy with book signings and interviews as his much-anticipated book, “Gaming the Game,” is released later this week. A nonfiction true-crime work, “Gaming the Game” tells the story of the recent NBA betting scandal and the Philadelphia-area professional gambler — Jimmy Battista — who made it happen. To watch Griffin in an interview about the book that aired on Fox 29 in Philadelphia, visit http://bit.ly/hvZZkW online.
Griffin exposes, for the first time, Battista’s remarkable decades-long bookmaking and betting career, including his role as architect of the widely publicized scandal. Battista — unlike his co-conspirators — never spoke with federal authorities, and reveals in this book the intricate details of the scheme.
Researched with dozens of interviews, court documents, betting records, referee statistics and unique access to witness statements and confidential law enforcement files, “Gaming the Game” looks inside the FBI’s investigation and beyond to provide the definitive account of the scandal.
During a recent interview on campus, Griffin said he is critical of books in this genre because they so often rely exclusively on the words of law enforcement officials, gangsters or other criminals. Griffin pointed out that the reader often has no way of knowing if what they are reading is fiction or non-fiction — which is why he is so adamant about the importance of primary source research.
“My interviews of Battista were great, he’s a funny guy, entertaining and smart, but just because Jimmy Battista says it doesn’t make it so…with practically every little thing he said there was follow-up,” said Griffin. “That’s why it took so long to write this book. I’m an academic by trade so even though I want to make it interesting for a reader, I also want my colleagues and students to know that I’ve taken the time to research as much of the story as possible.”
“The best you can do — as I’ve tried to do in ‘Gaming the Game’ — is track down as many people who were part of the conspiracy, or prosecuted or investigated the conspiracy. Are there law enforcement files? Are there informants? Court documents? The idea is always to pursue as many sources of data as possible and to tell the reader that if this was written, this is where it came from (source notes),” Griffin said.
The Penn State Abington students in Griffin’s criminal justice classes are certainly benefiting from his meticulous and extensive research methods.
“The research process is fundamental. That’s why it’s valuable to have researchers (as professors) in the classroom. It’s not simply the findings that wind-up as material for course work, it’s the process to get the findings that they need to know,” he said. “One of the goals in all of my classes is that my students become discerning readers. I hope the students never read a newspaper article the same way again after they’ve taken my classes, let alone a book.”
Griffin, a proud Penn State alumnus himself, earned all of his degrees at Penn State including a master’s degree in 1998 and his doctorate in 2000. In addition to numerous academic works, he’s written another mainstream true-crime read, “Black Brothers, Inc.,” a book about Philadelphia’s infamous and self-named Black Mafia. The story has been optioned to be made into at least one Warner Brothers’ movie and is in active development. Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to star in the seminal film.
“Gaming the Game” will be in area bookstores beginning Feb. 17. For more information visit Griffin’s blog.
A lecture and book signing with Griffin has been scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24 at the Abington campus. The event is free and open to the public. Check the Penn State Abington website for details on this upcoming special program
Sean Patrick Griffin Chronicles the Underworld
The local crime writer sets his sights on the Delco gambler who sparked a national scandal – By Jason Fagone
Posted on 3/25/11
It’s hard to believe that crime historian Sean Patrick Griffin used to interview FBI agents at the Brick House Tavern + Tap in Willow Grove. When we arrive for lunch, we’re greeted by a wall of hotties in identical low-cut black tops and cutoff jean shorts. The menu features “Submissive Baked Potato Soup” and “Double D Cup Cakes.” Discreet this place is not. “I used to set up shop in the corner,” says Griffin. Management has apparently changed. “It was quieter then.”
Griffin’s life has gotten noisy. By day, he’s an associate professor of criminal justice at Penn State Abington; by night, he meets with Leonardo DiCaprio’s agent. Griffin’s first book, 2005’s Black Brothers, Inc., a magisterial history of the Black Mafia in Philadelphia, has been optioned by DiCaprio’s production company and may be turned into a movie. Now comes Griffin’s sophomore effort, Gaming the Game, the story of the rise and fall of Jimmy “The Sheep” Battista, a professional sports gambler from Delaware County and a key player in the NBA betting scandal of 2007. If you thought sports betting was about dropping $100 at a time with your friendly neighborhood Mafia bookmaker or in a Vegas casino, Griffin’s book will blow your mind: It reveals a hidden world of almost Goldman Sachs-level sophistication, where shadowy characters like “The Computer” and “The Chinaman” cultivate informants to get inside information on games, deploy teams of savvy computer analysts, and move millions of dollars electronically—all to manipulate global betting lines in their favor. “These guys are the Warren Buffetts of betting, not the day traders,” Griffin says.
What’s interesting about Griffin is how he straddles the line between academic and storyteller, cop and journalist. Born in Northeast Philly to a cop family, he earned a badge before deciding to study the criminal mind in a different context. Black Brothers, Inc. began as his PhD dissertation at Penn State. Right now he’s working on two academic papers on gambling, and he’s also begun research for his third book, about the penny-stock boiler rooms of the ’80s and ’90s, centered on a white-collar huckster with roots in South Jersey.
“I think people like me catch a huge break, because the public seems so preoccupied with New York City,” Griffin says. “Philadelphia’s a large metropolitan area that has a very serious crime problem and has had it for decades. It’s a perfect field to mine data. It’s job security for somebody like me.”
Originally published in Philadelphia magazine, April 2011