The Queens County, New York prosecutor who led the investigation that brought down former Cantor Gaming sportsbook director Mike Colbert has struck again, indicting 17 people connected with an online sports betting operation.
On Wednesday, Queens District Attorney (QDA) Richard Brown announced that a grand jury had indicted 17 individuals connected with an international online credit betting ring. Law enforcement agents in New York, Nevada and California have arrested all but three of the indicted individuals.
The defendants have been saddled with 126 different counts, including enterprise corruption – a violation of New York’s Organized Crime Control Act – along with money laundering, promoting gambling and conspiracy. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
According to Brown, the QDA’s office began its investigation of the ring in February 2014. Brown identified Cyrus Irani, a resident of Santa Clarita, CA, as the ringleader of the operation, while Downey, CA resident Clark Bruner acted as second-in-command. Bruner’s two sons, Chris and Clark, and 10 other individuals acted as agents or sub-agents, while two money collectors and a clerk rounded out the indicted figures.
The operation is said to have processed an annual $32m in wagers from around 2k customers via a 1-800 phone number and the Panama-based 365ACTION.com website. The investigation had led to the seizure of $3m from bank accounts controlled by Irani.
The QDA worked in tandem with the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department. Brown also gave shout-outs to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Trans-National Organized Crime Unit.
Brown didn’t spare the clichés in his press release, equating online gambling with crack cocaine, as it is “highly addictive and easy to get hooked.” Brown also recycled the popular “click the mouse and lose your house’ meme of the last decade, ignoring the fact that most online gambling now takes place on mobile devices, but we guess ‘tap your phone and you’ll get boned’ hasn’t quite reached critical mass yet.
If Brown’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his office directed the investigation that led to the 2012 arrest of former Cantor exec Colbert. The QDA eventually dropped its charges against Colbert in exchange for him pleading guilty to related federal charges. Several figures associated with online sportsbook Pinnacle Sports were also charged in relation to that messenger betting case, but the QDA also dropped those charges last year.