The Edmond Sun

April 10, 2013

Feds: Alleged illegal gambling included Oklahoma

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Legendz Sports solicited millions of illegal bets totaling more than $1 billion on sports and sporting events from gamblers in Oklahoma and other states, the federal government alleges.

Four of the 57 defendants, which include entities and individuals, are from Moore, one from Oklahoma City, one from Choctaw, one from Norman and one from Edmond, according to the indictment. Others are from Canada, Costa Rica, Belize, California, Texas, Florida, New Hampshire, Colorado, Missouri and Alabama. About 20 defendants are from Panama.

U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats said the IRS and FBI have diligently investigated the alleged illegal activity.

“The defendants cannot hide the allegedly illegal sports gambling operation behind corporate veils or state and international boundaries,” Coats said.

Jim Finch, special agent in charge of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office, said individuals cannot skirt U.S. laws by setting up illegal Internet gambling operations in a foreign country, while living in the U.S. and enjoying all the benefits of being a U.S. citizen.

“The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to be diligent in investigating such violations of federal law,” Finch said.

According to the indictment a Spring, Texas, man conspired with others to operate Internet and telephone gambling services first from San Jose, Costa Rica, then from Panama City, Panama.

Known since 2003 as Legendz Sports, the enterprise allegedly used U.S. bookies to illegally solicit and accept sports wagers as well as settle gambling debts. Individuals seeking to place bets on sports were almost exclusively from the U.S.

The indictment alleges Legendz Sports sought to maximize the number of gamblers who opened wagering accounts by offering both “post-up” betting, which requires a bettor to first set up and fund an account before placing bets, and “credit” betting, which allowed the bettor to place a wager without depositing money in advance through face-to-face meetings with bookies or agents.

Individuals named as defendants are alleged to have been employees, members and associates of Legendz Sports enterprise. Corporate defendants are alleged to have been used by Legendz Sports to facilitate gambling operations, operate as payment processors, own websites and domain names, launder gambling funds and pay gamblers.

Among those indicted is Bruce Landen Middlebrook, 44, of Edmond. Efforts to reach Middlebrook or an attorney were not successful Wednesday. The public is reminded an indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are each presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

If convicted, defendants face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering, up to 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit money laundering, up to 10 years in prison for money laundering, and up to five years in prison for operating an illegal gambling business. In addition, the indictment seeks a forfeiture money judgment of at least $1 billion traceable to numerous specific assets including real estate, bank accounts, brokerage and investment accounts, certificates of deposit, IRA, domain names, a Sabreliner aircraft, a gas lease and vehicles. | 341-2121, ext. 108