NORMAN — Thirty-four individuals and 23 entities were indicted and accused of operating an illegal sports bookmaking business that solicited more than $1 billion in illegal bets.
United States Attorney Sanford C. Coats for the Western District of Oklahoma and Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division made the announcement Wednesday after the indictment was unsealed.
Of those 34 individuals, there were four listed from Moore and one listed from Norman. Those listed included Todd William Hoss of Norman and James Franklin Acker III, James Lester Acker, Robert C. Vanetten Jr., and Robert Anthony Lay, all of Moore.
There were a total of eight listed from Oklahoma. The other three Oklahomans charged were from Oklahoma City, Edmond and Choctaw.
“The defendants cannot hide the allegedly illegal sports gambling operation behind corporate veils or state and international boundaries,” said U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats. “I thank the IRS and FBI for their diligent work over several years to investigate this billion dollar international gambling enterprise.”
“These defendants allegedly participated in an illegal sports gambling business, lining their pockets with profits from over a billion dollars in illegal gambling proceeds,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Today’s 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.”
According to the indictment, Bartice Alan King, aka “Luke” and “Cool,” 42, of Spring, Texas, conspired with others to operate internet and telephone gambling services first from San Jose, Costa Rica, and then from Panama City, Panama, which took wagers almost exclusively from gamblers in the United States.
Known since 2003 as Legendz Sports, the enterprise allegedly used bookies located in the United States to illegally solicit and accept sports wagers as well as settle gambling debts.
The 34 defendants are alleged to have been employees, members and associates of the ongoing Legendz Sports enterprise. The 23 corporate defendants are alleged to have been used by Legendz Sports to facilitate gambling operations, operate as payment processors, own websites and domain names used in the enterprise, launder gambling funds, and make payouts to gamblers.
The indictment alleges Legendz Sports sought to maximize the number of gamblers who opened accounts by offering “post-up” betting, which requires a bettor to first set up and fund an account before placing bets, and “credit” betting, which allowed the bettor to place a wager without depositing money in advance through face-to-face meetings with agents.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering, up to 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering, up to 10 years in prison for money laundering, and up to five years in prison for operating an illegal gambling business.
In addition, the indictment seeks a forfeiture money judgment of at least $1 billion traceable to numerous specific assets that include real estate, bank accounts, brokerage and investment accounts, certificates of deposit, IRA, domain names, a Sabreliner aircraft, a gas lease, and vehicles.
“Individuals cannot skirt the laws of the United States by setting up illegal internet gambling operations in a foreign country, while living in the United States and enjoying all the benefits of U.S. citizens,” said Jim Finch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to be diligent in investigating such violations of federal law.”
The public is reminded that the indictment is merely an accusation and that the defendants are each presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Dickerson Cox and William Lee Borden, Jr., from the Western District of Oklahoma and Trial Attorney John S. Han with the Department of Justice Criminal Division Organized Crime and Gang Section.