Plea Deal Reached in Colorado Sports Betting Case
Federal prosecutors operating out of the United States Attorneys Office for the State of Colorado have announced that a plea deal has been reached in the case of a multi-state sportsbetting operation run from 2006 to 2013 by Kerwin Sande. Sande, who operated a small online gambling site based in Costa Rica called playfastsports.com, pled guilty to charges of money laundering and running an illegal gambling business that authorities alleged took in tens of millions of dollars of wagers from upscale clients who Sande solicited via golf-club memberships at a half dozen clubs scattered across the western US.
A number of high-profile Denver-area figures were reputedly involved in the illicit betting via Sande and his online site, with wagers and proceeds paid largely in cash. One of Sande’s favorite methods of delivering wins to bettors, according to court documents, was to secret hundred-dollar bills within sealed golfing magazines which were then delivered to the recipients.
Most of the betting activity took place in Denver and in Scottsdale, Arizona, the two cities where Sande maintained residences, though his golf-club memberships and bookmaking operations extended to Oklahoma and California as well. The vast majority of the betting action was on pro and college football and other major US sports, though the complaint also alleged that an online blackjack client was available to and used by some of the site’s customers.
Sande’s plea deal, which was signed on August 13th, included an agreement to a forfeiture of more than $3.1 million in personal assets established in some form to be derived from his gambling-business activities. Included in that was a Denver-area home valued at $1.6 million.
Amounting to almost as much in the seized assets were a lengthy list of “boy’s toys” accumulated by Sande in the furthering of his high-roller gambler’s image. Included were a number of items that were seized in conjunction with Sande’s November 2013 arrest; federal agents ultimately seized six autos and nine motorcycles. The six autos were two late-model Corvettes, two BMWs, a Mercedes and a Porsche Cayenne, while the motorcycles were exclusively Harley-Davidson and Ducati models.
Agents also identified and seized more than $600,000 in cash that Sande had distributed among nearly a dozen bank accounts at Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of Denver, US Bank and Vanguard.
The FBI interviewed several high-profile bettors who patronized Sande’s private bookmaking information, which included in-person bets and password-protected access to accounts on the playfastsports.com site. The testimony of at least five such confidential witness was assembled in building the case. One of the five testified to losing between $2 and $5 million in the course of his betting action via Sande, while the four others testified to action involving tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of individual wagers.
The $3.1 million in seized-asset forfeitures for Sande represents only part of the final outcome of the case. Those seized assets far outstrip the maximum civil fines called for under the applicable penal code, though Sande may face a short prison term when sentenced at a later date. Though the charges themselves called for a sentence of as much as three years, prosecutors cited Sande’s lack of a previous criminal history and cooperation with prosecutors in recommending a lesser sentence to the presiding judge of not more than 15 months.