Feds Make Airport Arrest In $22 Million Offshore Sports Betting Ring

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Police arrested a man at JFK Airport in New York for allegedly running a $22 million illegal offshore sports betting operation, in connection with a decade-long RICO case.

Richard Sullivan, a 73-year-old Antigua native, was taken into custody on Aug. 20 on counts of money laundering and racketeering issued by a federal grand jury in a 2010 offshore sports betting probe. Sullivan is alleged to be a principal in Sports Offshore.

He was arraigned in a New York district court a day after the arrest and is scheduled to appear before a federal court in Boston at a later date, according to a press release from the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Office.

Few offshore sports betting arrests before Sullivan

The arrest is one of only a handful on record for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which set banking law against illegal offshore sportsbooks.

The American Gaming Association has repeatedly urged the Department of Justice to crack down further, and recently eight states with legal sports betting joined them in that call.

Widespread US operation for Sports Offshore

Sullivan and co-conspirators Todd Lyons, and brothers Robert and Daniel Eremian allegedly ran the website Sports Offshore out of Antigua, using the internet and a toll-free number to take bets from US customers, according to 2010 court documents. The operation allegedly involved 50 US-based agents tasked with collecting gambling debts and forwarding them to Antigua.

The four men allegedly took more than $22 million from their operation, and laundered more than $10 million through checks and wire transfers tied to fake businesses.

A bulk of Sullivan’s alleged customers resided in Massachusetts, where sports betting had been completely illegal until earlier this year.

Possible charges for offshore sports betting

In 2011, Lyons and Daniel Eremian were sentenced to three and four-year prison terms, respectively. Lyons was ordered to forfeit $24.6 million and Eremian $7.7 million.

Sullivan’s possible sentence ranges from two years to 20 years in prison, in addition to fines.