Legends Sports Defendant Spiros Athanas Helped Police Solve Brutal Murder
A man indicted for his alleged role in a massive sports betting ring actually helped US authorities capture a vicious killer, Gambling911.com can reveal.
Spiros Athanas, who founded TheGreek.com, was named in an indictment handed down against principals at Legends Sports two weeks ago. Sources Close to Gambling911.com, however, claim that Athanas only helped finance their Panama City-based office and had no direct role in running that now shuttered company. He has already been arraigned in a Boston court and released on bail. 33 other individuals were charged and the US Government is seeking $1 billion in cash and assets.
In 2004, Athanas’s online sportsbook assisted authorities in capturing Meng-Ju "Mark" Wu, a 19-year-old UW-Madison freshman convicted in a triple homicide, who apparently had been involved in high-stakes offshore gambling with at least one of his three victims, Jason McGuigan. Wu and MacGuigan maintained wagering accounts at Olympic Sports (TheGreek.com) and it was the record of bets placed that helped forensics experts eventually track down the killer.
From the Verona Press:
Wu, whose car was parked at the Verona apartment, was quickly detained as a "material witness" in New York and brought back for a June 30 hearing. He would eventually be charged with all three murders but was never tried because he was found hung in his cell in an apparent suicide the night before his trial was scheduled to begin.
"It led us to some unique legal twists," Coughlin said of the case, noting the use of extradition, detainment in a hotel, exhaustive off-hours work by forensics experts and a group triple the size of his entire department working on the case. "We had over 50 people working on this case at one time for some time."
Wu's sloppy work in covering his tracks didn't make the case difficult. What did was the extraordinary time constraints law enforcement officials were under.
He had already made flight reservations to return to his native Taiwan, which has no extradition treaty with the United States. And police hadn't yet found hard evidence with which to arrest him.
Five days before the murders, Wu gave Jason McGuigan a large sum of money to bet on a professional baseball game.
One game in particular was a major league baseball game -- Pittsburgh verses Cleveland.
That game happened to go 15 innid lasted about five hours.
Wu used his cellphone to call Olympic Sports that night to find out which team won and law enforcement was able to trace that call and began working with Athanas’ Jamaican-based sportsbook.
Wu committed suicide while in Prison in January of 2005. He was found. hanging from a strip of cloth tied to a sprinkler head in his prison cell.
The story was featured on the Tru TV show “Forensic Files” in 2010.
Transcript from the show appears below…
>> Narrator: Pole in verona, wisconsin, were investigating a triple homicide.
An analysis of the crime scene INDICATED THAT jason McGuigan's two friends were killed first as they slept in the living room.
The killer took jason into the bedroom.
There was some sort of discussion before he, too, was killed.
In a search for suspects, police LEARNED THAT jason McGuigan and his upstairs neighbor, to a fight a week or two before the murder.
>> McGUIGAN HAD SLAPPED TODD.
Todd retaliated by choking jason or throwing jason to the ground.
Jason reported it to the police.
It turns out that ther enough of a conflict there that anybody even got charged.
>> Narrator: Todd denied any involvement in the murders.
Gunshot-residue tests on his hands were negative, but he said something curious -- that he didn't hear any gunshots from jason's apartment.
Ballistic experts say that's not necessarily unusual.
>> If they don't expect to hear a gunshot, when they do hear something, they'll interpret i some other way.
>> Narrator: Next, police stthe vehicles parked outside jason's apartment.
One was jason's cadillac escalade.
The other was a red toyota, one of two vehicles owned by jason's friend, 19-year-old mark wu.
He was from taiwan, the son of a wealthsinessman, and an honor student at theniversity of wisconsin.
When police tracked him down, mark wu was in new york city and about to board a plane to taiwan to visit his family for the summer vacation.
Mark said he left one of his two cars in jason's parking lot because it was safer than parking in the city.
>> Wu had a residence downtown in madison, and parking down there is very difficult.
And he had a number of vehicles.
And so by keeping one out at jason McGuigan's residence in verona, he didn't have to worry about parking tickets.
>> Narrator: On the night of the murders, mark wu said he was in his apartment in madison, wisconsin, and spent the night alone.
But mark's cellphone records indicated he was in verona, about 30 miles away from his apartment, which is where jason McGuigan lived.
, and it hits the verona tower.
Verizon tests show that any cellphone call that hits tower 165, the verona tower, is basically gonna be confined to someone that's within the city limits of verona.
>> He didn't really give a good explanation on why he had lied, but the gist of it was that he didn't know anything about these murders, and he just thought that he should have, basically, an alibi.
>> Narrator: And mark wu had no history of violence or erratic behavior.
>> Mark wu was about as unlikely a suspect in a triple homicide as you're gonna get.
His yearbook entries, his classmates, former teachers -- there wasn't really a sense of mark wu being a person who had been in trouble.
>> I'd say naive, helpless, really nice guy.
I was laughing out loud when the fbi suggested that he could be in a gang or something.
>> Narrator: But police found EVIDENCE THAT WU and McGuigan were both involved in gambling.
>> We learned that mark wu, through his family, it appears, primarily, had resources.
So he had money to burn.
>> Narrator: Five days before the murders, mark wu gave jason McGuigan a large sum of money to bet on a professional baseball game.
>> One game in particular was a major league baseball game -- pittsburgh verses cleveland.
That game happened to go 15 innid lasted about five hours.
>> Narrator: Mark wu used his cellphone to call a sports betting service that night to find out which team won.
>> The pitcher takes the sign, winds up.
It's in the dirt past the catcher.
The runner from third is heading ..
And there's the throw.
The game ends in a wild pitch, and pittsburgh wins 7 to 6.
I don't believe it.
For the second night in a row, pittsburgh wins in 15 innings.
>> Narrator: According to friends, when mark realized that he won, he couldn't contain his excitement.
>> Wu is ecstatic.
" >> Narrator: When mark wu asked jason McGuigan for the $17,000 he had won, he learned for the first time that jason never placed the bet.
>> Jason reacts to that by pulling his newly purchased glock pistol out of his pants, waves it at him, and says, "shut " >> there was, in fact, no bet placed.
Nothing documents that wu had any money put down.
Jason did not have any money put down.
So this bet is completely a false bet.
>> Narrator: Why jason didn't place the bet is unclear.
Either he forgot or decided to pocket mark's money instead.
Regardless, this gave mark wu 17,000 reasons to seek revenge.
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>> Narrator: Investigators now SUSPECTED THAT jason McGuigan was murdered because of his gambling activities.
In jason's personal files was evidence he placed bets through olympic sports, an offshore betting agency in the caribbean.
>> He would call in, and they would tell you the lines, the spreads, and what the picks were on those games, and he would then place bets on those.
>> Narrator: Gambling agencies set up shop outside the country law enforcement.
>> All of his bets throughout his entire account history with olympic sports were made by telephone.
Olympic sports records all incoming phone calls.
And the reason they do that is just in case somebody has an argument over whether or not they made a bet or did not make a bet.
They've got some kind of proof to back up what happened.
>> Narrator: When police listened to the tapes, they heard someone else on the phone with jason.
>> You want $100 on atlanta.
>> Narrator: The voice sounded like jason's friend mark wu, and it was clear that wu was also betting big on sporting events.
>> You have jason actually taking over, grabbing the phone in some manner because you can hear the voice change on the tapes.
You can also hear him in the background telling wu what to do, so you could see that McGUIGAN IS REAL SORT OF THE Mastermind behind any of this gambling that's going on.
what he was doing.
He didn't know pitchers' names.
He didn't know team names.
He didn't understand the odds.
He really had no idea what he was doing.
>> Narrator: An investigation into mark wu's finances revealed a telling piece of information.
>> When we began to discover that mark wu had, over a four- or five-month period, drawn more than $70,000 out of his bank account, that mark wu was telling investigators that he, at one occasion, had dropped $15,000 on a single bet.
>> Narrator: And investigators already knew there was a disagreement about the baseball bet and that mark wu believed jason owed him $17,000.
>> So it tells us that there is definitely some money issues going on between the two of them and they're very severe in nature.
>> Narrator: Mark gave police permission to search his apartment.
They found no bloody clothes or weapons.
But in the parking lot was the second vehicle mark wu owned.
Like the one seen following jason McGuigan the afternoon before the murders.
Inside was the owner's manual for a glock 9-millimeter pistol, like the one missingrom jason' same caliber weapon used in the murders.
Ballistic expert bill newhouse compared the shell casings from the murder scene to the ones provided by the manufacturer when jason purchased the w >> it was clearly printed as having been cartridge casings fired in, and it specified the glock pistol, which it had been fired in, with the serial number -- really nice information that we don't see very often.
>> Narrator: They matched, proving that it was jason's own weapon that killed him.
>> That's the only time I've encountered that in 30-some years of doing these kind of cases.
>> Narrator: Hoping to find the murder weapon, police searched the garbage dumpster behind mark wu's apartment.
Instead, they found a pair of sandals in a white plastic bag, along with some of mark wu's credit-card receipts.
Police also checked other dumpsters in a four-block radius.
>> They find out specifically where that particular garbage ...
And they do that dirty work that so often is the key to solving crime, and they find his gun case.
>> We found two halves of a glock gun case.
They're more of a plastic nature.
They were snapped in half.
One was tied off in one baggie, and one was found independently.
>> Narrator: To see if the case contained any fingerprints, forensic analyst mike riddle used superglue fuming, a process where the chemicals from heated superglue adhere to finger oils.
>> You hang it in there with superglue over a heat source, add a little bit of humidity to it, and the fatty acids of the fingerprints absorb the superglue and harden and set the print.
>> Narrator: Riddle saw what he thought might be some partial prints and used yellow dye to enhance the image.
These partial prints were in an unusual location.
>> They were in one of the corners in a curved portion of the gun case, partially covered by the foam rubber that was in there.
Had I never moved the foam rubber, I probably would not have been able to develop these prints using superglue.
>> Narrator: The prints belonged to mark wu.
And on the sandals from the garbage dumpster, scientists found tiny mist-like droplets of blood.
>> I knew that that size was indicative of the application of what I would term "high-energy" application of force to the blood source.
That's consistent with a bullet impact, of course.
>> Narrator: Dna testing revealed the blood on the sandals came from the youngest murder victim, 17-year-old dustin wilson.
Ironically, the dumpster should have been emptied the day after the murders, but the garbage-truck driver didn't pick up that day.
>> We spoke to the garbage collector, and he admitted that he often fibs on t document indicating that he did pick it up when, in fact, he does not pick it up.
>> Narrator: Mark wu was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder, but he would never be convicted.
>> Narrator: Mark wu's parents flew to the united states from taiwan because they sensed trouble.
Mark had withdrawn over $70,000 from his bank account and wouldn't give his parents an explanation.
>> Wu had been involved in some sort of money losses -- in their words, "hadn't been a very good boy" -- and they were taking him back to taiwan to make him sort of a good boy again.
>> Narrator: Prosecutors say mark wu tried to collect the $17,000 jason McGuigan owed him for the baseball bet.
He wanted to deposit this money into his bank account to placate his parents.
But jason didn't place the bet, so he refused to pay.
on the day of the murders, a witness saw jason McGuigan's friends threaten mark wu, angry, apparently, because wu had been following them.
Later that night, around , mark broke into jason's apartment, but jason wasn't there, so he stole jason's 9-millimeter glock ..
Then called jason, asking him what time he was coming home.
Mark wu returned to ja apartment around midnight, and jason still wasn't there.
Instead, jason's two friends were in the living room, asleep -- the ones who harassed him a few hours earlier.
Mark wu killed them to eliminate potential witnesses.
In doing so, h dustin wilson's blood on his sandals.
Jason didn't come home until , and mark was waiting for him.
Again, mark demanded his $17,000, but jason didn't have that kind of money in his apartment.
In desperation, he handed mark the key to his safe-deposit box.
[ Gunshot ] then mark shot jason with his own gun.
No one knows what mark did with his bloody clothes and jason's gun.
He threw t case containing his fingerprints in a garbage can a few blocks from his home.
He put his bloody sandals in a garbage bag and tossed them into the dumpster behind his apartment with identification provided by his credit-card receipts.
The next morning, mark flew to new york city with his parents.
They were about to leave for taiwan when police intervened.
>> He was holding a plane ticket to taiwan, a country tha not have an extradition treaty with the united states.
If mark wu gets to taiwan, mark wu never becomes the criminal defendant in this triple homicide.
The trial, there was a stunning development.
Mark wu hanged himself in his jail cell.
>> He was about to be, essentially, humiliated in the public.
His parents are gonna find out what he did.
He's 20 years old.
He's going to prison for the rest of his life.
He killed these three boys to try to cover up what he had done with all his parents' money.
Then he had to kill himself -- he last minute -- to cover up what he had done and not face the truth.
>> Narrator: As a courtesy to the victims' families, prosecutors laidut their entire case just as they would have presented it to the jury.
And the science left no doubt there would have been a conviction.
>> We gave what would have been an opening statement or a closinatement to these family members and went through the evidence we had so that they knew we took care of their family members', their friends' killer, that this was the right person.
There's not somebody else out >> to me, they showed that wu was guilty, and it was one of the better things that they ever could have done for us, short of us having the actual trial.
>> The dna spatter, the shell casings, and the fingerprints are all what really wrap up this case and take it from a circumstantial case to a case that's proven by forensic evidence.
>> Narrator: A christian missionary was murdered in her apartment.
The perpetrator left little evidence behind, but a new computer program found clues on a bloody sheet, and the case made forensic history.
--Captions by VITAC--www.vitac.com Captions paid for bythe courtroom television network, llc ..
An upscale suburb of seattle, which has some of the best-educated citizens in the united states.
Over 95% have either a high-school or college diploma.
27-Year-old dawn fehring fit right in.
>> Dawn was very much interested in foreign languages, and she was an exchange student in paris first, learning french, and then went to vienna, austria, and learned german.
>> Narrator: Dawn was an accomplished violinist and dancer who had recently returned from japan, where she was doing christian missionary work.
She was living in this apartment building in kirkland for just two weeks when her neighbor, a local fireman, noticed her front door was left open, and decided to investigate.
>> So, he grabbed his portable phone, knocked on the door, called out to see if anyone was there, and when he didn't receive a response, he entered into the unit.
>> Narrator: In the kitchen, there were freshly baked cookies.
>> Narrator: In the bedroom, he found his neighbor dawn fehring on the floor.
>> Narrator: Dawn was pronounced dead at the scene.
>> It was total denial for me.
I couldn't believe that it was happening.
I mean, there's no motive.
She has no enemies whatsoever.
>> I don't think she knew anybody.
I don't think she even knew the people across the hall.
She had not, as yet, said anything to any of us about the other people in the condo.
>> Narrator: The autopsy revealed a fist-sized bruise on the back of dawn's head.
She had also been sexually assaulted and strangled to death with the bedsheet.
>> It appeared to us that the attack was quick.
It didn't look like the suspect spent much time at the crime scene.
And, again, that night, no one heard or saw anything, and there's units above and below and across from her, and people were home at the time.
>> The one thing that the investigators knew immediately when they entered the scene was that whomever it was that did this was a smoker.
>> Narrator: They knew this from the ashes on the mattress and the burn mark on the table where he put the cigarette out.
He didn't leave the cigarette butt behind.
>> That means one of two things.
Either he had a cigarette in his mouth when he we he realized what he's done, he said to himself, "oh, god, what " and it was then that he lit the cigarette and thought about what he might do to try and cover it up or clean it up or abandon it.
>> Narrator: There was also a bloodstain on the fitted sheet.
Tests showed the blood was
- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher