BETonSPORTS executives have been cautioned about what may happen to them the next time they set foot on American soil.
Following the no-show by the company's lawyers at Monday's arraignment hearing in St. Louis, Mo., no-nonsense United States Attorney Catherine Hanaway warned the absentees that they could be issued arrest warrants for contempt of court if they enter the United States.
"They're just doing what they have been doing," Hanaway said, "I don't think it's surprising that they would continue to."
Since the indictments and issuance of the temporary restraining order on July 17, lawyers for BoS have failed to make all three scheduled St. Louis Federal Court appearances, maintaining they have not been properly served.
Marty Woelfle of the Justice Department's organized crime and racketeering section said on Monday that Steve Cohen, a New York lawyer hired to advise BoS, told her the company would not answer the charges.
Hanaway's view is that online gambling could be used to fund terrorism, though the government has made no specific allegations to that effect.
Hanaway told British newspaper the Guardian this week that BoS's practice of taking American bets has siphoned an unacceptable amount of money out of the United States.
"This is a very large amount of money flowing on an unregulated basis out of the U.S.," she said. "Any time that much money's flowing outside the U.S., there are concerns about its destination. Under U.S. laws, legitimate large flows of money are required to be subject to suspicious activity reports.
"We need to check it is not being used for money laundering, drug financing or terrorism. Because it's flowing out of the country in an unregulated way, we simply don't know the ultimate destination."
Meanwhile, an independent source known only as "Stuart" is seeking justice for ex-BoS CEO David Carruthers, who has been in U.S. custody since his arrest on July 16. Stuart has launched an information Web site and forum called freedavidcarruthers.com, not unlike freejaycohen.com, dedicated to Jay Cohen, one of 21 online sports book operators indicted in 1998 in the Southern District of New York for violating the federal Wire Act. He was the only one to go to trial and was convicted by a jury in March 2000 and sentenced later that year. He was released in 2004.
Carruthers, who appeared in court on Monday, has been issued a $1 million bond and, pending an agreement between his lawyers and the U.S. prosecutor, he will be able to leave prison and live in St. Louis in an apartment under GPS surveillance until and during the trial.
On other fronts, reports surfaced this week that BoS may have been connected to one of the five main organized crime families in New York, the Bonnano family.
British newspaper the Sunday Times broke the story, alleging that BoS shared offices in Costa Rica as recently as last year with a now-defunct sports betting company called Safe Deposit Sports (SDS), which U.S. prosecutors allege is part of a multi-million-dollar illegal gambling ring controlled by the Bonnanos. In May 2005, SDS was named in an indictment by U.S. authorities against 36 individuals, who were charged with running an illegal gambling ring.
A BoS spokeswoman this week confirmed that the company had shared its Costa Rica office with SDS until spring last year when the allegations of a mob link surfaced.
"SDS was a sub-tenant at the Costa Rica office, which is 1,000 square feet in size," she said. "As soon as BetonSports heard of the allegations they asked SDS to remove themselves from the office."
The search continues for BoS founder Gary Kaplan, the man some believe is the true focus of DOJ's grand jury indictment against the company.
Gambling 911 reported that Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia spoke with the Costa Rican Vice President Laura Chinchilla about the possibility of extraditing Kaplan to the United States.
"The extradition is possible if they comply with the diplomatic processes and corresponding courts, although in the country of Costa Rica it is not illegal for a company to take bets over the Internet," she said.
She also denied media reports saying that the Costa Rican government would not extradite him.
Costa Rican Minister of Security Fernando Berrocal told Al Dia that he will ask the Department of Migration for a report on comings and goings in the country, particularly those of individuals involved with BoS, including Kaplan, who incidentally is reportedly thought to be in Israel.