US Department of Justice Strikes Again – 57 Charged with Operating Illegal Online Sports Gaming Business
An indictment and forfeiture money judgment of $1 Billion was handed down by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma which names 57 defendants, including 34 individuals and 23 corporate entities. News reports assert that at least 22 of the US-based defendants in the case have already been detained by authorities. Twenty-six of the 34 individual defendants are listed with US addresses, with seven Panamanians and one Canadian completing the list.
An unsealed indictment released on Wednesday by the US Department of Justice shows a massive crackdown on Legendz Sports (formerly Legends Sports), a very well-known offshore betting operation.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
The operation was first run out of Costa Rica, and then from Panama City, Panama, according to the indictment.
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, individual retirement accounts, domain names, a Sabreliner aircraft, a gas lease and vehicles.
This is the first major indictment by the DOJ following the original Black Friday poker indictments named United States vs Scheinberg et al two years ago. Apparently, the FBI and IRS had been working on the case for several years.
The chief organizer of the sports gambling operation is identified as Bartice “Luke” King, who 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 says. King, 46, is a legal resident of Spring, Texas. Also indicted is a man named Spiros Athanas, also known in the betting industry as “The Greek” and associated to TheGreek.com sportsbook.
The indictment is merely an accusation and that the defendants are each presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.