Thursday April 11, 2013 : BILLION DOLLAR U.S. SPORTS BETTING BUST
Department of Justice reports the arrests of 34 individuals and the indictment of 23 entities
The US Department of Justice has reported the arrest of thirty-four individuals and the indictment of 23 entities, accused of operating an illegal sports ring, according to widespread reports in the American mainstream media late Wednesday.
Government prosecutors said that a federal grand jury seated in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, returned indictments against 34 individuals associated with Legendz Sports and 23 business entities that helped facilitate the operation.
Enforcement officials claim that the bookmaking ring generated revenue of more than $1 billion in illegal bets.
Four of the individuals named in the indictment have ties to the Houston area, but the reports indicate that the enforcement action has a far wider spread than that, and involved the DoJ, the FBI and the IRS in an investigation that has been taking place for several years, according to US Attorney Sanford C. Coats.
“These defendants allegedly participated in an illegal sports gambling business, lining their pockets with profits from over a billion dollars in illegal gambling proceeds,” confirmed Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman.
“The current charges demonstrate that we are as determined as ever to hold accountable those involved in facilitating illegal online gambling by U.S. citizens, regardless of where the business operates, or where the defendants reside.”
Bartice Alan King, aka “Luke” and “Cool,” aged 46 years, of Spring, Texas, is accused in the indictment of conspired with others to operate internet and telephone gambling services first from San Jose, then onto Costa Rica.
The allegedly illegal operating system then extended well into and then from Panama City, Panama. Wagers were accepted almost exclusively from gamblers in the United States seeking to place bets on sports.
King appears to be the principal defendant; he reportedly opened MVP Sports in 2002 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The following year he moved the operation to Panama and renamed it Legendz, the indictment claims.
Authorities said if convicted the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering, up to 20 years for conspiring to commit money laundering, up to ten years for money laundering and up to five years for operating an illegal gambling business.
Prosecutors said they will seek forfeiture of real estate, bank accounts, a Sabreliner aircraft, and a variety of financial instruments connected to the operation.
Legendz Sports allegedly used bookies located in the United States to illegally solicit and accept sports wagers and settle gambling debts. Many of these agents are now being picked up by the authorities and it is anticipated that further indictments involving accused persons in other states will soon be unsealed.
The latest enforcement actions follows a sweep earlier this year by officials from the Queens DA's office and the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York which pursued agents of the Pinnacle Sports betting enterprise, located in the Netherland Antilles