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Published on Tuesday, September 7, 2021
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three U.S. citizens were sentenced in the U.S. for participating in an illegal gambling operation sports betting website operated from Costa Rica, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Georgia said.

The first case was a man surnamed Mobley, 44, of Waynesboro, Ga. He was sentenced to five years of probation and forfeited $340,084 after pleading guilty to an Information charging him with Prohibition of an Illegal Gambling Business and Fraud and False Statements, David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia said. Mobley also must pay $207,716 in restitution to the IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue and pay a fine of $2,000.

Two co-defendants also were sentenced after pleading guilty to Prohibition of an Illegal Gambling Business. One surnamed  Cates, 40, of Waynesboro, was sentenced to three years of probation and agreed to forfeit $100,000, and fined $4,000. The other surnamed Jones, 59, of Greenwood, S.C, was sentenced to four years of probation and a fine of $10,000.

“With his long-running illegal gambling operations, Mobley showed utter disregard for the law and compounded the activity by drawing others into his orbit,” Acting U.S. Attorney Estes said. “These sentences will hold them all accountable for their actions.”

As described in court documents and testimony, Mobley operated as a “bookie” for illegal sports betting operations for at least the past 10 years in Burke County, at first collecting bets and paying out winnings himself, and later through a sports betting website operated from Costa Rica.

In 2015, Mobley merged his operation and began splitting his profits with a smaller gambling ring operated by Jones. From 2015 to 2017, Mobley cashed bettor’s checks totaling approximately $220,000 at his parent’s check-cashing business which operated out of a company in Girard, Ga.

"To help conceal the growing amount of cash involved in the transactions, Mobley enlisted the assistance of Cates, who admitted that he funneled approximately $250,000 in gambling proceeds through his Waynesboro tire store, in return for money and favors from Mobley, the U.S. Department of Justice said in its statement.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, during this period, Mobley admitted filing false information on his income tax returns to conceal the amount of proceeds from the illegal gambling operation.

“Mobley’s greed continued to grow over the years as he operated his illegal gambling operation, eventually recruiting other individuals to take part,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in charge of FBI Atlanta said. “Their greed eventually caught up with them and now they will suffer the consequences. No matter where an investigation takes us, the FBI and our federal partners will pursue criminal activity that violates our Constitution.”

According to IRS-Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Demetrius Hardeman, operating an illegal gambling operation and filing false tax returns to the IRS are dangerous moves. “Not only can the unreported income from the gambling operation result with tax due, interest, and penalties, but it also can result in prison time. The sentencing today brings accountability and justice for the conspiring parties,” he said.

The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigations and prosecuted by the United States Attorney.

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What have you heard about illegal gambling in Costa Rica? 
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