March 3, 2015

Three Florida Men and a Corporation Convicted of Running Illegal International Gambling Enterprise

WASHINGTON—A federal jury in Oklahoma City convicted three Florida men and a Florida corporation today for their participation in an illegal international gambling and money laundering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats of the Western District of Oklahoma.

“In the age of the Internet, what used to be a crime conducted by bookies on street corners is now an international criminal enterprise,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Operating on-line but off-shore, 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 Coats. “I applaud the tremendous, collaborative efforts of our law enforcement partners and the prosecution team.”

Paul Francis Tucker, 50, of Mount Dora, Florida, Luis Robles, 50, of St. Beach, Florida, and Zapt Electrical Sales Inc., a corporation registered in Florida and owned by Tucker, were found guilty of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Christopher Lee Tanner, 58, of Sarasota, Florida, was found guilty of conducting an illegal gambling ring. A sentencing date will be set by the court in approximately 90 days, and the hearing will take place before U.S. District Judge Stephen P. Friot of the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2003 to 2013, Tanner, Tucker, Robles and Zapt Electrical Sales conspired with others to operate Internet and telephone gambling services from Panama City, Panama through an enterprise known as Legendz Sports. The international gambling enterprise took more than $1 billon in illegal wagers, almost exclusively from gamblers in the United States on American sporting events.

The evidence demonstrated that Tanner and Tucker worked as bookies in Florida, and illegally solicited and accepted sports wagers and settled gambling debts. Tucker also used Zapt Electrical Sales and its bank account to launder gambling proceeds collected from losing bettors.

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.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Dickerson Cox and Travis D. Smith of the Western District of Oklahoma.