The St. Louis Post-Despatch newspaper, which has closely followed the major BetonSports online gambling case since the arrest of CEO David Carruthers back in 2006, reports on surprise federal court developments in the city this week. Three Florida residents have apparently pleaded guilty to promotion-related charges and have agreed to assist the prosecution.
The three were among 11 people indicted in the BetonSports case, which started with the arrest of the company's CEO, David Carruthers, whilst he was on US spoil in transit from London to Costa Rica. Carruthers had been a vociferous supporter of US regulation and taxation of online gambling, and he remains under house arrest in St. Louis more than two years since his original detention. Shortly after his arrest, Carruthers was fired by his fellow directors, who went on to plead BetonSports as guilty.
A founder of the company, Gary Kaplan was later arrested and extradited from Dominica and also remains in custody in a Department of Justice prosecution that brought what was once one of the biggest and most successful offshore sportsbetting companies to its knees.
The St. Louis Post-Despatch quotes Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Holtshouser as saying that the three Florida men who pleaded guilty this week are the first convictions of a "non-gambling entity" such as an advertising or marketing company for a gambling-related crime.
William Hernan Lenis (55) pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of gambling paraphernalia and admitted that his company Mobile Promotions sent logo-wrapped motor homes to sporting events across the country to promote BetOnSports, recruit new gamblers and collect signatures to try to change gambling laws, the St. Louis Post-Despatch article reveals. The RVs had computers and mobile phones so gamblers could place bets.
Lenis also admitted that family members, including son William Luis Lenis, nephew Manny Lenis and daughter Monica Lenis worked with him on the project. He also admitted that his company Direct Mail Expertise mailed 2 million to 3 million ads for BetOnSports per year between 2000 and 2006 and dealt directly with Kaplan relatives Neil Kaplan and Lori Kaplan.
His son Will Lenis (28) pleaded guilty to the transmission of wagering information and admitted that he helped an undercover police officer make a bet in a BetOn-Sports RV in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 22, 2002.
Manny Lenis (29) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to pay a wagering tax and admitted accepting a bet from an undercover police officer on the same date as his cousin.
Federal prosecutors have agreed to drop all other charges against the men, and to drop charges against Monica Lenis in return for the guilty pleas. Will Lenis and Manny Lenis could additionally be more leniently sentenced under federal guidelines for cooperating with investigators.
Holtshouser would not comment on how the pleas might affect the cases against the other defendants.
When the newspaper asked other defendants in the case how the pleas would affect their defence strategies, it was told that a significant impact was unlikely by Neil Kaplan's lawyer. Gary Kaplan's legal representative Chris Flood is quoted as saying: "This has no effect on Mr. Kaplan's defense and we understand why …the Lenis family would feel compelled to enter their pleas."