Examples of Gaming Investigations - Fiscal Year 2013
The following examples of gaming investigations are written from public record documents on file in the court records in the judicial district in which the cases were prosecuted.
Man Sentenced for Illegal Gambling Operation and Money Laundering
On August 21, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla., Richard Allen Hancock, of Yorba Linda, Calif., was sentenced to 16 months in prison and three years of supervised release for his involvement in an illegal gambling business. Hancock pleaded guilty to charges of prohibition of illegal gambling business and money laundering. According to the indictment, Hancock, along with others, participated in an illegal gambling business that operated “High Stakes” poker games from a residence in Oklahoma City. They took bets and wagers on sporting events on behalf of betting clients and used an illegal Internet gambling website in interstate and foreign commerce for the benefit of betting clients. In addition, Hancock and others conspired to launder over $8.1 million in money derived from the gambling operation.
Oklahoma Man Sentenced for Gaming Violations
On August 15, 2013, in Oklahoma City, Okla., Gary John Gibb was sentenced to 16 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $500,000. Gibb pleaded guilty in March 2013 to prohibition of illegal gambling business. According to the Indictment, Gibb and others operated “High Stakes” poker games, took bets and wagers on sporting events on behalf of betting clients and used an illegal Internet gambling website in interstate and foreign commerce for the benefit of betting clients. In addition, Gibb and others conspired to launder more than $8.1 million in money derived from the gambling operation.
Hawaii Resident Sentenced for Operating Illegal Gambling Business
On August 8, 2013, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Eric Ford was sentenced to 20 months in prison. Ford pleaded guilty on February 21, 2013 to one count of conducting, directing, managing, owning, and supervising an illegal gambling business and three counts of structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements. Ford also forfeited $129,566 in cash and a vehicle purchased with proceeds traceable to the illegal gambling business. According to court documents, from at least November 2009 to November 2012, Ford operated an illegal gambling business out of Aloha Springs Water Company located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Ford took numerous sports bets over the phone and online, collected gambling debts, and paid out gambling winnings. Ford also knew financial institutions are required by law to record cash purchases of money orders and other monetary instruments totaling $3,000 or more. To avoid this record keeping requirement, Ford structured the purchase of money orders totaling more than $3,000 by purchasing smaller amounts at multiple financial institutions. Ford structured more than $120,000 between May 2009 and June 2012.
Pennsylvania La Cosa Nostra Capo Sentenced for Racketeering Conspiracy
On July 17, 2013, in Philadelphia, Pa., Anthony Staino Jr., of Swedesboro, N.J., was sentenced to 97 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $7,500 fine. On April 18, 2013, Staino pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy as a capo in the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra (LCN) Family and committing loan sharking and illegal gambling. According to court documents, as a member and capo of the Philadelphia LCN Family, Staino gave a usurious loan to an undercover FBI agent and used threats of violence to collect payments on the loan. Staino also ran an illegal electronic gambling device business for the mob, providing video poker machines and other gambling devices for bars, restaurants, convenience stores, coffee shops and other locations in Philadelphia and its suburbs, and then collected the illegal gambling proceeds.
Connecticut Man Sentenced for Participating in Illegal Gambling Ring
On June 3, 2013, in Hartford, Conn., Thomas Uva IV, of Stamford, Conn., was sentenced to 21 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $100,000. On March 13, 2013, Uva pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and one count of money laundering. According to court documents, Uva and others were involved in a large-scale sports bookmaking operation in which gamblers placed bets with offshore Internet sports-gambling websites based in Costa Rica. In addition, Uva and others operated a card gambling club in Stamford. Analysis of the sports-betting web site utilized by the co-defendants determined that the total gross revenues of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011.
Connecticut Man Sentenced in for Role in Gambling Operations
On June 5, 2013, in Hartford, Conn., John Liquori, of North Haven, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $60,000. Liquori pleaded guilty on March 13, 2013 to one count of racketeering conspiracy. According to court documents and statements made in court, Liquori and others were charged with various offenses related to their involvement in an illegal Internet sports bookmaking operation and illegal card gambling clubs. The bookmaking operation in which gamblers placed bets with offshore Internet sports-gambling websites was based in Costa Rica. According to an analysis of the sports-betting website, the total gross revenues of the gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011. In addition, Liquori assisted with the operation of a card gambling club where a house percentage, commonly referred to as a “rake,” was collected from every hand played.
Connecticut Couple Sentenced on Illegal Gambling and Tax Convictions
On December 17, 2012, in New Haven, Conn., Dominic J. Acquarulo, Jr., of Guilford, Conn., was sentenced to 22 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine. Acquarulo’s wife, Annunziata Germana, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. In addition, Acquarulo and Germana were ordered to pay back taxes and interest of $29,659 and $13,397, respectively. On March 13, 2012, Acquarulo pleaded guilty to one count of operating an illegal gambling business, one count of filing a false tax return, and one count of willfully failing to timely file a tax return. On June 12, 2012, Germana pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully failing to file a tax return. According to court documents, between 2006 and 2008, Acquarulo operated an illegal sports bookmaking business that involved a number of sub-bookmakers, each of whom had a network of bettors. Also between 2006 and 2008, Acquarulo operated Shoreline Finance and Marketing Corporation, a mortgage brokerage company. During this time, Acquarulo employed Germana as a mortgage loan officer at the business. With Acquarulo’s knowledge, Germana used corporate credit cards and corporate checks to pay for numerous personal expenses, including rent for her apartment, car lease payments, jewelry and clothing.
Connecticut Man Sentenced for Operating an Illegal Gambling Business
On November 16, 2012, in Hartford, Conn., Michael Pepe, of North Haven, Conn., was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $100,000. On August 6, 2012, Pepe pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an illegal gambling business. According to court documents, in May 2012, Pepe served as the master agent for his Stamford-based co-defendants’ gambling operations. Pepe oversaw bookmaking activities, coordinated the collection of monetary losses from various agents (“bookies”), and provided a portion of those illegal proceeds to a co-defendant. The total gross revenues of the Stamford-based gambling operation were nearly $1.7 million from October 2010 to June 2011.
Missouri Men Sentenced for Running Illegal Gambling Operation
On October 31, 2012, in Springfield, Mo. William Lisle, of Joplin, was to two years of probation, including six months of home detention, and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and forfeit $98,263. On October 18, 2012, Kenneth B. Lovett, of Joplin, was sentenced to two years of probation, including six months of home detention. Lisle and Lovett each pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling operation over the Internet. Lisle also pleaded guilty to money laundering. According to court documents, from January 1, 2003 to February 8, 2011, Lisle and Lovett used the Internet to transmit wagering information, including placing bets on sporting events, as part of their gambling business. Lisle sent cashier’s checks, payable to a false name in an effort to conceal the transfer, to the Costa Rican company that operated the Web sites. Lisle’s plea agreement cites 15 instances in which he sent cashier’s checks totaling $72,000 to Costa Rica as part of his scheme to launder money obtained from the gambling enterprise.
Operator of Illegal Gambling Business Sentenced
On October 10, 2012, in Urbana, Ill., Jimmy A. LaCost, of Kankakee, Ill., was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. LaCost was convicted in April 2012 for structuring financial transactions and laundering the proceeds of his illegal gambling business. LaCost’s son, Michael, was sentenced to 12 months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. LaCost Amusements, Inc., was sentenced to three years of probation. The court also ordered Jimmy LaCost, Michael LaCost and LaCost Amusements, Inc., to jointly forfeit $4,285,829 in illegal gambling proceeds, 300 illegal video gambling machines, and nine separate properties. In April 2012, a jury found Jimmy LaCost guilty of 54 counts of structuring financial transactions and one count of money laundering. The jury found that Jimmy LaCost structured approximately $6.4 million in cash deposits over four years, from January 2005 to July 2009, to evade Currency Transaction Reporting requirements. In addition, the jury found Jimmy LaCost guilty of money laundering related to the bank deposits of proceeds from the operation of the illegal gambling business.