EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Television is putting the limited series Jackpot into early development, inspired by the hardscrabble life of Philly high-stakes gambler-turned-FBI confidential source RJ Cipriani (aka Robin Hood 702), the lynchpin in taking down a multimillion-dollar drug ring. Nicholas Stoller and his Stoller Global Solutions partner Conor Welch, as well as Jamie Canniffe, are executive producing with Cipriani.
A gambler known for giving his winnings to the less fortunate, Cipriani’s chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend plunged him unwittingly into a money-laundering scheme that ultimately led to one of the biggest cases in FBI history leading to over 1,000 arrests around the world. The series follows the gambler, known to the FBI as “Jackpot,” as he navigates an insane web of characters who may just kill him and his family unless he can bring them down first. The series is billed as being part Donnie Brasco and part Ocean’s 11.
Cipriani was a key domino in the FBI’s takedown of former USC football player-turned-drug lord Owen Hanson’s violent empire which spanned the U.S., Central and South America and Australia. Hanson began dealing recreational drugs and steroids to teammates in college during the early 2000s which morphed into a global network. Cipriani was tasked by Hanson to gamble $2.5 million through the drug lord’s laundering scheme. The gambler lost all the money –on purpose– playing blackjack, spurring Hanson to make death threats, including sending Cipriani photos of his deceased mother’s defaced headstone, photos of his wife along with her personal information and a video showing beheadings.
Hanson was arrested in September 2015 and sentenced in late 2017 to more than 21 years in federal prison. The drug lord was ordered to pay a $5M criminal forfeiture, which included $100K in gold coins, luxury vehicles, jewelry, vacation homes, a sailboat and interests in several businesses.
A device used to take down Hanson was the Phantom Secure mobile phone, which was designed and sold to criminals around the world. Hanson bought several of these phones and mistakenly gave one to an FBI undercover agent, which exploded the case into thousands of criminals being monitored in multiple jurisdictions around the globe by the FBI, inside and outside the drug lord’s case. The use of the ANOM phone resulted in the arrest of 800 criminals in one day in a sting operation by the FBI and global law enforcement agencies. Later on, the FBI had the great idea of putting out their own encrypted phone and called it ANOM.
The break-up of Hanson’s ring spurred two competing documentaries in development, one at Netflix as Deadline first told you, and another at Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Archie Gips’ Unrealistic Ideas with producer Van Echeverri.
Stoller’s gay romantic comedy Bros starring Billie Eichner had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the pic notching 89% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore. Stoller is the director of the $379M-global grossing comedy franchise Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and the animated feature Storks. In TV, he was the EP of the Fox series The Grinder and the NBC comedy series The Carmichael Show.
Cipriani is repped by UTA. Stoller is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.