Illegal gambling operators indicted
The United States Department of Justice has indicted 34 people and 23 entities on charges that they operated an illegal sportsbetting and online gambling operation known as Legendz Sports that allegedly has taken in over one billion dollars since 2003.
The 95-page indictment from the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma was filed on March 20 before being made public on Wednesday and alleges that the operation, which was reportedly established by Bartice Alan ‘Luke’ King in San Jose, Costa Rica, before subsequently relocating to Panama City, Panama, violated nine sections of the United States Code including racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and illegal gambling business provisions.
“The defendants cannot hide the allegedly illegal sports gambling operation behind corporate veils or state and international boundaries,” said Sanford Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
“I thank the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for their diligent work over several years to investigate this billion dollar international gambling enterprise.”
The indictment alleges that 42-year-old King of Spring, Texas, conspired with others to operate Internet and telephone gambling services that took sports wagers almost exclusively from gamblers located in the United States. The enterprise is suspected of using bookies located in the United States to illegally solicit and accept sports wagers as well as settle gambling debts.
“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 Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the United States Department of Justice.
“Today's charges demonstrate that we are as determined as ever to hold accountable those involved in facilitating illegal online gambling by United States citizens regardless of where the business operates or where the defendants reside.”
The indictment also names 23 corporate entities that assisted Legends Sports with payment processing, payout, money laundering and website hosting facilities while the individual defendants could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
“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 United States citizens,” said Jim Finch, Special Agent In Charge for 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 indictment additionally seeks a forfeiture money judgment of at least one billion dollars traceable to what it called ‘numerous specific assets’ that include real estate, bank accounts and brokerage and investment accounts along with certificates of deposit, domain names, a Sabreliner aircraft, a gas lease and vehicles.
“Combining the financial investigative expertise of the IRS with the skills and resources of the FBI makes a formidable team for combating major greed-driven crimes,” said Andrea Whelan, Special Agent In Charge for the IRS.
“This massive indictment is the result of our highly effective law enforcement partnership.”