ONLINE GAMBLING RACKETEER CHARGED IN FLORIDA
17th April, 2014 at 13:03:34
Threats of violence were used by this sports betting ring leader, it is claimed.
Thomas Welch (48), a Naples, Florida man accused of multiple racketeering, extortion and money laundering-related charges, was the ring-leader in an illegal online sports betting enterprise that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to reports in the publication News-Press this week.
Welch has been arrested by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in a raid on his home, and is now held in custody with bail set at $245,000.
In a 24-page affidavit accompanying the arrest report, FDLE Special Agent Bryan Waid detailed a nearly year-long undercover investigation into Welch's alleged sports betting ring that employed a web of enforcers, and collected takes from across the country.
It is alleged that through his website, Alydar653.com, Welch used commercial banks to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal sports bets into bank accounts he controlled.
He also recruited gamblers to act as "agents" tasked with soliciting new bets, and it is claimed that when losers didn't pay up, Welch used a web of enforcers to threaten violence, including one man he compared to Hanibal Lecter, threatening: "....he will eat your face off," according to the affidavit.
The FDLE investigation was triggered in June last year when agents, looking into an online sports betting ring out of Costa Rica connected with a confidential informant.
The informant owed Welch $18,000 after another bookie refused to pay winnings and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
The FDLE report shows that agents examined Welch's trash during the investigation, recovering evidence of illegal gambling. That was followed by sting operations involving audio recordings and the placing of bets. The resulting recordings incriminated Welch and included references to organised crime associations in his past.
Related News Tags: Crime, Costa Rica