Maine’s biggest ever illegal bookmaker cops a plea

TAGs: Department of Justice, Maine, sports betting, stephen mardigan

maine-illegal-bookmaker-guiltyA Maine bookmaker has admitted his involvement in an illegal betting operation that local authorities claim was the largest in state history.

This week, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine announced that Stephen Mardigan had pleaded guilty to charges of running an illegal gambling business, money laundering and filing a false income tax return. Mardigan is potentially looking at a 20-year sentence on the money laundering charge alone.

The 61-year-old Mardigan was arrested in April 2017 but he’d been making book out of his Portland home since 2003, during which time he handled millions of dollars in wagers and laundered at least $4.5m through his used-car business. Mardigan used the proceeds to amass a real estate portfolio of some 30 local properties, from which he derived an annual $1m in rent.

Mardigan used his car business to process payments from gamblers, including another car dealer who lost a total of $2m to Mardigan’s book over a six-year period. Another client in Florida deposited $1.4m through Mardigan’s Avenue Auto businesss over the same span.

Police ultimately used the paper trail of these car payments to bring Mardigan down. Over an eight-year period, Mardigan’s car business reported only 57 sales, yet he’d deposited more than $11.3m into Avenue Auto’s bank accounts, a discrepancy that wasn’t reflected in the company’s tax filings.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has phone recordings of Mardigan talking to his girlfriend Patricia Nixon in which she helps him compute the odds for various parlay wagers. Yet Nixon has yet to be charged in the case, nor have any of the other individuals who appear in the evidence against Mardigan.

The recent change in US law that brought wagering into legally friendly territory would seem to spell doom for corner bookies like Mardigan. After all, why would someone run the risk of not receiving your winnings when you can bet with any number of legal options available in your state?

WNYC News thought much the same, so it queried some New York bookies regarding their allegedly grim future. But at least one bookie insisted that it would be business as usual for a couple of reasons, including the fact that a lot of bettors won’t be interested in the crap odds offered by legal entities due to high taxation imposed by the state.

And one former bookie sagely noted that bettors “can’t walk into a betting office and say, ‘I want to bet a thousand dollars,’ and have no money. But you can pick a phone and call the bookmaker and bet a thousand dollars, no problem.”


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