U.S. federal authorities are seeking to forfeit more than $475,000 in alleged net proceeds from an illegal gambling business in Guam that they took down less than seven years ago.
In 2010, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service busted the unlawful operations of the Overseas Chinese Association Center (OCAC). The organization has permission to run bingo games and was granted tax exempt status based on its stated mission of providing money for off-island travel for the medically indigent, but the feds got suspicious that something was up when the alleged charity’s claims to have disbursed over $400,000 couldn’t be corroborated by receipts showing only $8,000 in payouts.
A federal probe revealed the organization offered cash poker games, with the “house” reportedly taking a 5 percent rake on each pot as well as offering loans to players who’d busted out.
Betsy Ho and Peter Tsai were indicted on two counts of illegal gambling business and 42 counts of money laundering and criminal forfeiture, while five other people—including Ho’s husband—were charged with conspiracy, illegal gambling business, 36 counts of money laundering, as well as three counts of structuring and criminal forfeiture.
Federal authorities also froze assets of three Bank of Guam accounts after executing search warrants in December 2010.
Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office wants the money from those accounts turned over to the government on grounds that “the money was laundered from illegal gambling businesses Ho allegedly operated,” Post Guam reported.
In its motion for default judgement, federal prosecutors said the organization’s net proceeds from its bingo games were to be used exclusively for charity, but Ho skimmed the bingo proceeds and failed to conduct bingo operations that conform to the law. In addition, the feds said Ho used another company to create “sham invoices” for bingo equipment to launder the money.
In 2013, Betsy Ho’s husband, Wai Kam Ho, told authorities that “he couldn’t return to Guam because his wife was sick on her death bed.”