A new Assets Forfeiture and Financial Crimes task force has been implemented at the US Attorney's Office in Baltimore Maryland which is already being used to go after online gambling operations.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein announced the task force in mid-August. While Rosenstein is a Bush holdover, sources close to Gambling911.com have said that the Obama Administration is supportive of Rosenstein's efforts.
Rosenstein has stated that he has "beefed up" his office's work on these crimes because the Justice Department has encouraged the U.S. Attorneys to "follow the money" in mortgage fraud and other financial criminal cases. Those "other financial criminal cases" we learn involve online gambling.
On Friday, Gambling911.com first broke the story that the Baltimore office had joined forces with the US Attorney's Office out of New York, the Louisiana State Police and the US Customs Office in an effort to squash online gambling. The focus appears to be on credit card and eCheck processors that do business with gaming companies.
Agents posed as individuals looking to join the online casino, Golden Casino, and were routinely told they could not play at the casino from the jurisdiction provided. Eventually, one of the customer service representatives allowed an agent to join the casino according to documents.
As part of the investigation, which commenced last August, law enforcement agents also met with US-based customers of Golden Casino.
The task force overseeing the investigation into this activity reported that small banks were also approached and convinced that processing for online gambling ventures was "not illegal" under current laws. The investigation is going to expand and grow more intense, our sources can now reveal.
"Seizing and forfeiting ill-gotten gains enables us to take the profit out of crime and use the proceeds to compensate victims," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "This new unit will work with federal authorities and with state and local officials on a wide range of cases in which federal forfeiture and money laundering statutes can help punish and deter crime. Federal laws allow us to pursue forfeiture of assets for many crimes, including mortgage fraud. Assets subject to forfeiture may include the fruits of crime - such as homes and vehicles purchased with criminal proceeds - and also the instrumentalities of crime - such as computers, vehicles and real estate used by criminals."
The new section will be responsible for working with state and local authorities on potential federal forfeitures, handling civil forfeitures, assisting with criminal forfeitures and restitution, overseeing Maryland's Suspicious Activity Report Review Teams and providing advice about money laundering and other financial crimes cases.
The asset forfeiture and money laundering prosecutors are Stefan Cassella and Richard Kay, who are based in the U.S. Attorney's Baltimore office, and Christen Sproule, based in the Greenbelt office.
Cassella, who will serve as chief of the new section, earned a B.S. from Cornell University and a J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. He spent more than 20 years with the U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division, serving as Assistant Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section from 1994 to 2002 and the Deputy Chief from 2002 to 2007. Earlier in his career, Cassella was an Assistant State's Attorney for Montgomery County and a Maryland Assistant Attorney General. Cassella was sworn in today as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Kay earned a B.A. summa cum l laude from the State University of New York and a J.D. with honors from the University of Maryland. Kay has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 19 years, specializing in asset forfeiture matters and serving as the coordinator for the Baltimore office. Sproule earned a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. She served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon and spent several years working for private law firms. Sproule joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in January to handle asset forfeiture and victim-related restitution matters in the Greenbelt office.
Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher