Three Floridians Convicted in Legendz Sports Online Sportsbetting Case
The United State’s Attorneys Office for the Western District of Oklahoma has announced guilty verdicts given to three 50-something Florida men alleged to be prominent figures in the online sportsbetting operation called Legendz Sports.
The three men, along with a Florida-based company allegedly used by the men as a money-laundering front for their operation, were one section of a massive sportsbetting ring that US prosecutors stated was run from 2003 to 2013. The Legendz Sports operation included online sites hosted in Panama and Costa Rica, while the entire bookmaking scheme included both online and face-to-face elements in several US states.
Found guilty in the western Oklahoma district court were Paul Tucker and Luis Robles, both 50, and 58-year-old Christopher Tanner. A Florida company operated by the three men and owned by Tucker, Zapt Electrical Sales, Inc., was also found guilty on the charges, which included money laundering, racketeering, conducting an illegal gambling business.
When the indictments were first issued, back in 2013, 34 individuals were named, including 26 Americans, allegedly involved in the operation of LegendzSports.com and several online betting sites. The US-based portion of the operation was based primarily in Florida, Texas (where the group’s alleged ringleader lived) and Oklahoma. Seven Panamanians and one Canadian were also indicted back in 2013, along with 23 separate corporate entities, including the above-mentioned Zapt Electrical.
Tucker and Robles were found guilty on each of the money laundering, racketeering and illegal-gambling-business counts, while Tanner was found guilty on a single charge of conducting an illegal gambling ring. The corporate entity, Zapt, will be subject to civil and criminal forfeiture actions, while the three Floridian men will be sentenced before presiding judge Stephen P. Friot later this spring.
According to the Western Oklahoma USAO, Tanner and Tucker served as Florida-based bookies, while Robles was at the next level up, being a runner for the group’s operation. A recent USAO statement declared that, “the evidence showed that Robles worked as a runner for the enterprise, delivering cash to Legendz Sports bookies to make payouts and picking up cash profits from the bookies. According to the evidence at trial, bookies and runners for Legendz Sports transported millions of dollars of gambling proceeds in cash and checks from the United States to Panama. The checks were made out to various shell companies created by Legendz Sports all over Central America to launder gambling proceeds.”
USAO officials for the Oklahoma City prosecutor’s office issued the customary press pronouncement about the verdicts. Stated Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, “In the age of the internet, what used to be a crime conducted by bookies on street corners is now an international criminal enterprise. Operating on-line but off-shore,” added Caldwell, “the individuals convicted in this case raked in more than a billion dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. But as these convictions demonstrate, no matter where or how organized criminals operate, the Criminal Division will bring them to justice.”
“This is a great result in this important case,” said U.S Attorney Sanford C. Coats. “I applaud the tremendous, collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners and the prosecution team.”
The LegendzSports Group operation, according to prosecutors, was one of the largest illegal sportsbetting rings ever prosecuted by the US government. The lengthy 95-page indictment detailing many of the group’s activities alleged that the group processed over a billion dollars in illegal wagering over a period of more than a decade, 2003 to 2013.
The operation’s intertwined corporate entities and online operations also included at least a half-dozen well-trafficked sites. Besides www.LegendzSports.com, the case also targeted online sites www.legends.com, www.thepig.com, www.danutz.com, www.4ibet.com and www.zmvp.com.
The prosecution continues against other individual and corporate defendants in the case, although as noted, several of the international defendants are unlikely to ever be brought before a US court.