Law Enforcement Used Skype Wire Taps in Sports Betting Probe Tied to Legends

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Law Enforcement Used Skype Wire Taps in Sports Betting Probe Tied to Legends

Law enforcement utilized wire tapping of Skype conversations in an international offshore gambling probe that resulted in charges against principals of Legends Sports in Panama and others.

It was revealed Thursday that an Albany, New York probe leading to the arrests of four individuals living in Florida first reported by Wednesday afternoon was indeed tied to a massive FBI probe originating out of Oklahoma City.  34 individuals were named in the 95-page FBI indictment.  Two corrections officers were arrested by Albany police Wednesday morning for their role in the gambling ring, however, neither were named in the OKC indictment, leading one to believe more arrests are coming in connection to this case.

From the Albany Times Union:

Police and federal agents were listening-in last October when Michele Laso, a citizen of Panama who lives in south Florida, used an online videoconferencing service to contact her boss, Philip Gurian of Boca Raton, Fla.

They discussed Lasso's efforts to wire hundreds of thousands of dollars from illegal gambling websites into Panamanian banks and companies that she had set up as fronts to launder money, according to a federal complaint.

Law enforcement authorities said the pair mistakenly believed their conversation on Skype that day could not be captured on a wiretap. They were wrong.

The Times Union confirmed the case is related to the FBI probe out of Oklahoma City. 

Spiros “The Greek” Athanas, 53, one of the pioneers of online sports betting, was arraigned Wednesday morning in a New Hampshire court.  Athanas was named in the OKC indictments as a partner in Legends Sports, which law enforcement claims used illegal bookies operating from within the US to facilitate bets.  Legends Sports is alleged to have made over $1 billion since 2004.

Authorities claim that Athanas helped Gurian manipulate odds when they stood to take losses if too many wagers were being placed on certain teams.  Law enforcement are attempting to seize a private jet owned by The Greek.

Gurian is alleged to have ties to the New Jersey Mafia.

From the Times Union:

Gurian, a federal convict tied to New Jersey mob figures in a 2000 stock market manipulation case, was raking in as much as $150,000 a day with help from at least five associates from New Hampshire to Russia, according to a federal complaint that charges him with money laundering.

"Internet gambling operations may be perceived as offering privacy and anonymity to bookmakers and bettors, but the outstanding cooperative efforts of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who participated in this investigation are shining a spotlight through the electronic mist onto the alleged conduct of these defendants," said U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, whose office is prosecuting the case with the Albany County district attorney's office.

The conversation between Lasso and Gurian last October was one of hundreds recorded during an investigation that began in Albany roughly three years ago.

The Times Union notes that the probe grew out of a former Drug Interdiction Unit to include the FBI and Internal Revenue Service and utlimately “led to authorities spending hundreds of hours eavesdropping as they built their case against what they call a major multimillion-dollar illegal gambling enterprise”.

The Times Union report mentions UK-based as being one of the sites utilized by Gurian to place bets, however, Bet365 is not believed to have taken wagers from US citizens for close to a decade.

The New York State case is under seal. 

- Chris Costigan, Publisher

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