Wednesday March 13,2013 : $290 MILLION US INTERNET GAMBLING SWEEP
Internet cafes hid behind not-for-profit organisation
US news sources are reporting a wide-scale online gambling investigation involving the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and the sheriff's offices in Seminole and Volusia counties.
Jerry Bass, the National Commander of Allied Veterans of the World Inc. & Affiliates (AVWIA), was arrested and charged by US Authorities at the Duval County Jail earlier this week for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation under the guise of a non-profit fundraising centre for war veterans.
The Federal investigation, reported to have been operating over the past six years, is also probing software company International Internet Technologies LLC (IIT) and Florida Gaming Promotions along with owner Chase Burns (37) who supplied the gambling software. Burns is the son of former District Attorney Tony Burns.
Other arrests in the investigation include those of the Fraternal Order of Police Union President Nelson Cuba and his vice president, Robbie Freitas who were extradited to the Seminole County Jail. Kelly Mathis, an attorney representing the AVWIA was also detained, Action News reports.
A US Internal Revenue Services affidavit said the fundraising centres began operating in 2007 in Florida as a non-profit corporation called Allied Veterans of the World Inc. & Affiliates.
“In fact, the ‘fundraising centers’ were nothing more than Internet casinos that operated slot machines in violation of Florida’s gambling laws,” IRS Special Agent Michael Favors wrote in the affidavit."
According to the IRS, the AVWIA's reported distribution of 70 percent of its net proceeds to the Veterans Administration, a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status, turned out to be a meagre 2 percent. Federal investigators seized evidence in two states and scoured over thirty bank accounts to determine that of the $290 million generated from 2007 to early 2012, only $6 million actually made its way to the Veteran's Administration.
“Instead of going to charity as is represented, the vast majority of the revenue earned from the gambling operation went to for-profit companies and the individuals who operated Allied Veterans and its ‘Affiliates.’ To hide the true nature of its gambling operation from the public, Allied Veterans and others resorted to fraud and misrepresentations,” Favors said.
An Oklahoma City Federal Magistrate Judge authorised a search of the Anadarko-based IIT headquarters looking for evidence of “conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering”, confirmed authorities. Another fifty AVWIA facilities were reportedly searched in eight locations across Jacksonville and Florida.
The internet casino's which were claimed to have been later sold to for-profit companies in April last year, apparently are still owned by the same companies who were already operating them at the time.
Burns is also alleged to have owned two of the Florida internet casinos, said Federal authorities. A criminal charge is expected to filed against him later this month.