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Texas Sportsbetting Ring Convictions, Plea Deals Announced for Gregg Merkow, 17 Others

ScreenHunter_06 Aug. 19 13.10Texas authorities on Thursday held a press conference to announce the breaking up of a significant sports betting ring being run both live and online and centered in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  Among 18 defendants named in a summary released by the US Department of Justice’s Eastern District of Texas office, which includes the DFW area, was prominent Texas poker player Gregg Merkow.

Merkow actually served as the point of entry for local and federal authorities investigating the gambling ring, which is alleged to have existed since at least 2002 and had, according to the DOJ, taken in $5.4 billion in gross wagers from 2007 to early 2011 alone.

According to this piece at DallasNews.com (the online portal of the Dallas Morning News), an undercover investigator investigating a bookie working in the open at a Dallas bar was able to leverage that relationship into a larger relationship with Merkow, who was working as a bookie for the ring.

From 2006 on, that relationship in turn led to cracking of the ring, which included sportsbetting operations through a group of about 25 online sites organized under a Curacao-incorporated entity, Global Internet Corporation (GIC).  One of several Dallas-area reports lists one of the major sites for the group as DMN On the Net (dmnonthenet.com / dmnonthenet.net), and a reverse lookup on the various GIC Curacao entries reveals at least these domains that have been associated with the GIC operation:

allsportsnow.com
apuestaencasino.net
betamerica.us
betemup.com
bigtexsports.net
dmnonthenet.com
dmnonthenet.net
gicsb.com
marcelojunior.com
marcelojunior.net
mauricioalmeida.com
mauriciodealmeida.com
misterbet.net
mrbet.net
nlegs.net
portcitydollars.com
primetimeaction.com
primetimeaction.net
rap3.net
riobet.net
sirbet.com
sports333.com
sportssolution.net
sportssolution.us
starbaybets.com
turfclubofindia.com

Merkow was not the ringleader of the group.  As described by the US District Attorney’s office in their Thursday press conference, that role was held by Albert Sydney Reed, Jr., 57, of Southlake, who was sentenced to a year and a day for his part in the operation.  Each of the other 17 defendants received supervised release or probation along with monetary finds for their roles, including Merkow, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a single count under the state’s prohibition of illegal gambling business code.

Merkow and the 17 others were targeted with search warrants and seizure orders in 2011, with millions in cash and expensive assets seized from the defendants in the case.  Merkow, a frequent WSOP participant in recent years, notched a breakthrough win at an early WSOP Circuit stop in Tunica, MS in 2005, collecting $561,175.

Merkow’s probably out at least half that much, as it appears a claim he filed to retrieve cash and property seized during the execution of the 2011 search warrants was denied.  Merkow sought the return of $233,000 in cash along with jewelry and gold coins.

In a 2012 interview with DFW TV station KXAN about the case, Merkow described one of the coins as being a heirloom passed down to him by his mother.  And as for the cash, as he relayed from his claim for KXAN, “I am a professional poker player and have been for a number of years.  In order to participate in this profession, it is necessary to have a cash hoard which is accessible on short notice … Part of the money is my cash hoard which I have accumulated over the last 20 years or so.”

Overall, uthorities seized more than $10 million in cash and assets which were forfeited in connection with the case, along with fines levied in connection with the case’s assorted convictions and plea deals.  Here’s a list of all 18 defendants in the case, from the list provided by the USAO:

Albert Sydney Reed, Jr., 57, of Southlake, Texas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and sentenced to 12 months and 1 day in federal prison.

Curtis Wayne Higgins, 45, of Proper, Texas, was convicted of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from illegal gambling and sentenced to 5 years of probation.

David Mullins, 48, of Coppell, Texas, was convicted of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from illegal gambling and sentenced to 5 years of probation.

Dean Hartley Maddox, 69, of Houston, was convicted of willful failure to file a tax return and sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Carl Francis, 71, of Dallas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and was sentenced to 3 years of probation, 6 months home confinement and 200 hours of community service.

Andrew Harris McElroy, 44, of Dallas, was convicted of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from illegal gambling and sentenced to 3 years of probation.

Steven Arnold Bell, 58, of Arlington, Texas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and sentenced to 2 years of probation and 6 months home detention.

Neil Marcus Gerson, 51, of Frisco, Texas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and sentenced to 2 years of probation.

Robert Primm, 71, of Fort Worth, was convicted of a violation of willful failure to file a tax return and sentenced to 6 months of probation.

Charles Albert Brawner, 66, of McKinney, Texas, was convicted of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from illegal gambling and sentenced to 5 years of probation.

Adam John Brady, 36, of Irving, Texas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and sentenced to 2 years of probation.

William Craig Robertson, 42, of Rockwall, Texas, was convicted of prohibition of illegal gambling business and sentenced to 3 years of probation.

Thomas Applegate, 45, of Carrollton, Texas pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

William Michael Christopher, 56, of Fort Worth, pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

Larry Dean Coralli, 78, of Addison, Texas, pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

Brent Lee Coralli, 48, of Plano, Texas, pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

Robert Roy Hodges, 71, of Dallas, pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

Gregg Richard Merkow, 49, of Plano, Texas, pleaded guilty to prohibition of illegal gambling business and is awaiting sentencing.

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