The Special Investigations Unit of the Montgomery County Sherrif's Department in Houston, Texas has reported the arrest on money laundering charges of three local residents allegedly involved in an Internet gambling operation in Costa Rica.
SIU investigators arrested Justin Franciscotty (37) his wife Ana Franciscotty (30) and his sister-in-law Stephanie Uselton (25) at a private house in the area and charged them with second-degree felony money laundering, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 000, reports the Houston Community newspaper The Courier.
Investigators claimed that the charges have genesis in the alleged receipt through the U.S. Postal Service of large amounts of ‘illegally obtained' currency.
SIU Sgt. David Womack said officers raided the residence after obtaining a search warrant. It was not clear where the investigators sourced their information leading to the action, although the investigator revealed that federal authorities were involved and had provided crucial information.
Womack claimed that Franciscotty’s only means of income was an online gambling operation based in Costa Rica.
“The investigation revealed this residence was receiving large amounts of money through the postal service,” Womack said. “Once inside the residence, we found several packages from other parts of the United States, which at one point had several thousands of dollars inside.”
In one room of the home, Womack said, there were multiple TVs connected to satellite service, which investigators theorised was for watching several sporting events as part of Franciscotty’s alleged bookie operation. Womack said Franciscotty was a bookie for those wishing to illegally bet on all types of sporting events, from various ball games to horse racing.
“The domain name [of the accused's website] and setup was based in Costa Rica,” he said. “It’s like an offshore gambling operation, but you can’t operate offshore from the U.S.”
The suspect was stopped leaving the residence in his 2006 Cadillac Escalade and was found to have $6 000 in his pocket, Womack reported. “Once inside the residence, we found an additional $10 000 in cash.”
Investigators also found a room receipt from the Ritz Carlton Cancun from April to September 2007, with the bill totaling more than $44 000. Rolex watches valued at $25 000 to $35 000 and diamond necklaces appraised at $20 000 with matching earrings were also found, along with receipts for additional ‘extravagant jewelry', Womack revealed. Three computers were seized from the residence, which investigators hope will yield additional answers about the alleged book-making operation.
“Information about the spending habits of these individuals will be forwarded to federal officials,” Womack said.
More charges are pending against those arrested as well other residents who were not home when the raid took place.