By Tim Talley
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge handed down a 27-month prison sentence Friday to an Oklahoma man who pleaded guilty to federal gambling and money laundering charges.
U.S. District Judge David Russell returned the sentence to Teddy Mitchell, 59, following a sentencing hearing where Mitchell acknowledged breaking the law and apologized to his family “for everything I’ve put them through.”
“I understand what I did was illegal,” Mitchell said. “I am now a convicted felon.”
Mitchell became emotional as he expressed love for his 4-year-old daughter, who will be cared for by others while he is incarcerated. His wife, Julie Mitchell, 34, was killed in November 2010 and her slaying remains unsolved.
“The victim is my daughter, London,” he said.
Julie Mitchell’s beating death inside the couple’s northwest Oklahoma City home has increased the public’s interest in her husband’s gambling case. Investigators have said she was forced to open a safe at her home before her death and about $30,000 was missing.
Teddy Mitchell pleaded guilty in July to being involved in an illegal offshore Internet sports gambling business. Prosecutors called him one of the most successful “sub-agents” in a Costa Rica-based business and say he made at least $900,000 a year.
Some of Mitchell’s clients became caught in the web of the investigation. Former Tulsa athletic director Ross Parmley was fired in December 2012 after he was linked to the gambling case.
Parmley was publicly identified in court documents that described him as an “admitted gambler with Mitchell” but was not charged.
FBI agent Francis Bowles Jr. testified during the sentencing hearing that Parmley “took a bath in sports betting” and became so desperate to recover his losses that he began placing wagers on highly speculative NASCAR races.
While pleading guilty in July, Mitchell told Russell that he and at least five other men operated the gambling business between 2004 and 2010. Mitchell said he paid taxes on his gambling income and used some of it to purchase rental properties.
Prosecutors alleged Mitchell tried to hide the source of the money through the real estate acquisitions and violated federal money laundering statutes, but Mitchell claimed he did not know he was breaking the law by spending the money that way.
In sentencing Mitchell, Russell said he did not believe that Mitchell did not know he was violating money laundering laws. He also said Mitchell is responsible for gambling-related allegations that other members of his family faced.
Mitchell’s son, Dryden R. Mitchell, was sentenced last month to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to two felony counts involving the sports wagering business.
“Your son’s in prison today because of you,” Russell said. Another son, Nick Mitchell, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor tax offense for not reporting tips he earned from dealing cards at poker games.
Following the hearing, Mitchell told reporters he agreed with the judge.
“I shouldn’t have got my kids involved,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over. I want them to put all of their resources into finding who hurt my wife.”
Mitchell’s attorney, Scott Adams, said a $50,000 reward is being offered for the identity of the person or persons responsible for Julie Mitchell’s death. He also said no evidence has been found that her death was related to her husband’s illegal gambling activities.
Adams said he was satisfied with the sentence Mitchell received. He had faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for gambling, and up to 20 years and a $500,000 fine for money laundering.
“Obviously, no one wants to go to prison,” Adams said. “Would we like to have less? Yeah.”
Russell said he will recommend that Mitchell serve his sentence at the Federal Correction Institute at El Reno, located about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City, and gave Mitchell until Feb. 24 to surrender himself.
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