Five Amarillo Residents Sentenced in Illegal Gambling Case
AMARILLO, TX—Five residents of Amarillo, Texas, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to their roles in an illegal gambling conspiracy, were sentenced on Friday, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson sentenced the four below-listed defendants, who each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, as follows:
Anthony Diaz, 44, nine months in federal prison and a $2,000 fine
Jessica Rios, 35, 12 months in federal prison
Mario Castillo, 37, 13 months in federal prison and a $2,000 fine
Raul Montes, 48, three months in federal prison and a $1,000 fine
In addition, Judge Robinson sentenced Santino Castillo, 31, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, to 15 months in federal prison and a $3,000 fine. In addition, Castillo was ordered to forfeit a retail strip center on 8th Street in Amarillo; a building on 7th Street in Amarillo; a 2010 Ford truck; approximately $118,000.00 in cash; and approximately $180,000.00 seized from three bank accounts.
According to documents filed in the case, Santino Castillo owned Payless Liquors and T’s Laundromat, located at 1910 SE 8th Street, Suites 100 and 200, respectively, in Amarillo. Sometime in 2011, he organized an illegal gambling business in Suite 300 of 1910 SE 8th Street, known to its operators and customers as Mario’s or G’s. In 2013, he organized an illegal gambling business located at 823 SW 7th Street in Amarillo, known to its customers as Adams. Both illegal gambling businesses housed numerous gambling-type, electronic video game machines and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits. Mario Castillo (Santino Castillo’s brother) managed Payless Liquors, as well as the 8th Street gambling business, and Anthony Diaz and Jessica Rios (Diaz’s sister) worked there. Raul Montes cashed checks tendered by customers to play at the two gambling businesses at a local money service business.
In late September 2013, after undercover officers observing the gambling activity, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at the two gambling business locations, as well as at Santino Castillo’s residence on Parkwood. During the searches of the businesses, officers discovered and seized over 75 gambling machines and nearly $8,000 in cash. At the residence, law enforcement located approximately $78,421 in cash that was involved in Castillo’s laundering activity.
In late September 2013, law enforcement also executed a search warrant at the residence of Anthony Diaz and Raul Montes and seized approximately $12,277 in cash from the illegal gambling business.
In a related case earlier this year, Conrad Nava was convicted and sentenced for participating in the operation of the 7th Street gambling business. Law enforcement agents searched his residence in late September 2013 and found close to $40,000 in gambling cash there.
The FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John de la Garza and Brian Poe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas led the prosecution.