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Federal Criminal Charges Brought Against Internet Sports Gambling Business

The Department of Justice recently announced the unsealing of indictments in the Western District of Oklahoma against 34 individuals and 23 corporate entities charging them for participation in a vast international gambling and money-laundering scheme. The alleged gambling scheme involves acts spanning nearly a decade in three countries. The government claims that over the period, the participants solicited over $1 billion in illegal bets, which the government now seeks to recover in forfeiture. Charges against the defendants include multiple counts of operating an illegal gambling business, racketeering, money laundering, and conspiracy.

According to the indictment, Bartrice Alan King, a/k/a/ “Luke” and “Cool,” of Spring Texas, opened an illegal internet sports gambling website in 2002 that was based in San Jose, Costa Rica, and which was moved in 2003 to Panama City, Panama and renamed “Legendz Sports.” Although the physical operations were located in other countries, the government claims that Legendz target bettors in the United States by using both online betting as well as traditional bookmakers located throughout the U.S. King’s wife, Serena Monique King, is also charged in the conspiracy for her role as vice president of Data Support Services and operator of Texas-based Starting 5, LLC, companies which the government claims were involved in the scheme.

The dozens of other individual and corporate defendants charged in the gambling conspiracy include individuals acting as bookmakers, agents, runners, and shell companies that were used to keep Legendz running and the profits paid out to the participants unconnected to the illegal gambling enterprise. Many were involved in distributing “payouts” to bettors by taking funds from Legendz and sending them through “payment processor” companies that would then remit checks to the bettors.

By using telephone and online gambling services based in Panama City, Legendz allegedly took bets from U.S. bettors by one of two methods: “Post-Up” betting where a bettor first funded an account with Legendz and was limited to the funds in that account, and “Credit” betting where the better did not have to pay in advance, and instead met face-to-face with agents and bookies in the U.S. By running the websites and phone betting “twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year,” the government claims that Legendz was able to take millions of illegal bets of over $1 billion since 2003.

The government also seeks forfeitures large amounts of property allegedly involved in the conspiracy—worth up to the $1 billion or more in bets it claims the company solicited. The property the government wants to keep for itself 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.”

Potential sentences for the charged crimes range from 5 years for operating an illegal gambling business to up to 20 years for racketeering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Where multiple counts are charged, convictions may potentially result in back-to-back sentences. For each member of the conspiracy convicted, a judge will have to determine the amounts of money that can be attributed to that defendant, which will help the judge determine an appropriate sentence under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Our federal defense attorneys have represented numerous clients in criminal gambling investigations and federal racketeering cases. We have had outstanding results in all types of state and federal white-collar criminal cases, including numerous dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and probation-only sentences. If you are under investigation for or charged with federal gambling or other white-collar offenses, our experienced attorneys are available to help.