An Antigua man has been arrested at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport for allegedly running a $22m illegal offshore online gambling operation in a more than 13 year pursuit.
Richard Sullivan, 73, of St. John’s, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston in August 2010 with racketeering, operating an illegal gambling business, transmission of wagering information, money laundering and interstate travel in aid of racketeering
He was arrested on August 20, 2023, while proceeding through customs, and was arraigned in the Eastern District of New York one day later. He will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date.
It is alleged that Sullivan, alongside co-conspirators Todd Lyons, Robert Eremian and Daniel Eremian, operated Sports Offshore, an online gambling site licensed in Antigua that was actually operating in the United States.
This prosecution marked one of the first times that individuals were charged with violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the first in Massachusetts.
The statute was enacted in 2006 to deter the use of the US banking system to pay internet gambling debts incurred by US citizens.
Sullivan and his co-defendants are charged with over 75 counts of engaging in US banking transactions involving US-based gamblers to pay gambling debts owed to Sports Offshore.
In December 2011, Lyons and Daniel Eremian were convicted following a five-week jury for their roles in the conspiracy. The former was sentenced to four years in prison, one year of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $24.6m. Eremian was sentenced to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $7.7m.
It is claimed that the operation used an internet site and toll-free telephone line registered in Antigua to service United States customers, and conducted business that stretched from Massachusetts to Florida.
“The ring also allegedly employed approximately 50 gambling agents in the United States, who solicited hundreds of customers and collected gambling debts, forwarding the illegal gambling proceeds to Antigua,” a media release read.
To conceal the conspiracy, Sullivan and his co-conspirators allegedly created numerous fictitious entities with no legitimate business purpose to launder the proceeds of their illegal gambling business so that authorities could not detect US-based financial transactions involving teh enterprise.
In total, Sports Offshore reportedly collected over $22m through the illegal gambling operation and laundered more than $10m in checks and wire transfers.
“The charge of racketeering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000,” the US Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts confirmed.
“The charge of operating an illegal gambling business provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, and up to two years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of transmission of wagering information provides for a sentence of up to two years in prison, and up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
“The charge of money laundering provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000.
“The charge of interstate travel in aid of racketeering provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, and up to two years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.”