Student Says He Was Driven to Crime by Gambling Addiction

July 25, 2006 — -- To some people, Greg Hogan Jr. was a most unlikely bank robber.

He was president of his sophomore class at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and the son of a respected minister.

On Dec. 9, 2005, though, he walked into an Allentown, Pa., Wachovia bank and handed a teller a note that said he had a gun and demanded money.

The frightened teller gave Hogan $2,800. Hogan then went with friends to see "The Chronicles of Narnia" and have pizza. Later that day, police caught up with him as he went to play cello for the school orchestra.

Hogan has pleaded guilty to the robbery and faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 17.

In an exclusive interview on "Good Morning America," he said that he believed he should be punished but that he also blamed a gambling addiction for his legal troubles.

"I started playing with about $50," Hogan said. "I would deposit money from my checking account with an account at [an] online gambling site, mostly at or I tripled my money the first few times so it seemed like easy money, but then I lost $300 and just felt this rage. Eventually, I spent it all."

An Insidious Problem

Online gambling is a serious problem among college students.

According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2.9 million Americans between the ages of 14 and 22 gamble with cards online at least once a week and 50 percent of male college students and 26 percent of female college students gamble on cards at least once a month.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would prevent gamblers from using credit cards to bet online and could block access to gambling Web sites.

Hogan said that he had owed $500 to friends who had kept asking for the money and that his parents had refused to give him anymore money to fuel his addiction.

He said he planned to rob the bank in December, and then never gamble again.

"Basically, the addiction told me to do it," Hogan said. "I didn't think of the consequences at that time. I didn't think I would get kicked out of school. I didn't think I would lose [friends] or embarrass my family."

The Model Student

Although he was struggling, Hogan and his problems were not readily apparent to outsiders.

"The fact that he's a college student going, coming from an affluent family -- he just does not fit your, your typical profile of, of someone robbing a bank," said Ron Manescu, the assistant chief of the Allentown police.

Hogan said he had hid his online gambling addiction and robbed the bank because he had lost his entire life savings of $8,000. At the time of the crime, he owed his bank $1,000 in overdraft fees.

"He chose this route of bank robbery to try and pay some gambling debts rather than talk to his family members, borrow money," said John Waldron, Hogan's attorney.

Hogan's father, the Rev. Greg Hogan Sr., said that he had his son undergo counseling last summer.

Greg continued to receive help while at school and had software installed on his personal computer to prevent him from gambling. However, he used other computers at his fraternity and the library to gamble.

"When he started back up again, I called Lehigh to ask what they could do," his father said. "But there was nothing they could do."

Since his arrest, Hogan has completed a 36-day treatment program for gambling addiction. He also attends Gamblers Anonymous. He has been suspended from Lehigh, but hopes eventually to return to the college or another school. Eventually, Hogan wants to attend law school.

"I feel like I could give a lot more to the community, especially with this addiction," Hogan said. "If I do have the option of getting out of jail, I could spread awareness of this addiction."

ABC News' Chris Cuomo contributed to this report.