Texas Family Caught Running One of America’s Largest Bookmaking Operations

  • Family admitted setting up an illegal sports betting racket
  • Son collected payments from debtors
  • Mother laundered cash through the U.S. banking system
$100 bills hung out to dry
A husband and wife and their 46-year old son were caught taking illegal sports wagers totaling $33m over a 6-year period.

30-years of money laundering

A family from southeast Texas acknowledged this week in a federal court that they ran an illegal bookmaking empire.

It started off more than 30 years ago with Larry Tillery and his wife Judy. Eventually, their son Brian Tillery joined the sports betting operation. Larry Tillery, 69, and son Brian Tillery, 46, pleaded guilty to financial transactions in property that had been derived from his unlawful activity and tax evasion. Judy Tillery, 62, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade tax reporting requirements.

The federal prosecutors in charge of the case say that the family transacted almost $33m (£26.6m) from 2010 to 2016. Judy helped her husband launder the cash and Brian collected from and paid the bettors.

The sentence for such a crime would be 10 years for Larry and five each for his wife and son.

“One of the largest illegal sports gambling operation”

According to the prosecutors, this was one of the largest illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations in the USA. Mary Magness, assistant special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Houston office, said in a statement: “Today’s pleas underscore HSI’s commitment to aggressively investigate financial crimes and bring offenders to justice.”

Larry kept track of his bettors cash by using a website that allowed him to track wagers on sporting events, including high-profile professional basketball, collegiate basketball, baseball, and football games.

His wife then deposited the money in her account before writing checks under the $10,000 (£8,057) limit to her husband to avoid detection.

Total of 125 financial transactions

The federal investigators found evidence of 125 financial transactions in excess of $10,000 and known to be derived from the illegal gambling ring. This is the amount that the officials used to estimate a total of almost $33 million between 2010 and 2016. Since the racket in operation for three decades, the full amount is probably much more.

Under a plea agreement, the family forfeited $241,176 (£195,128) that was seized during the investigation and surrendered up their home residence, a house in Beaumont that was valued at approximately $600,000 (£483,000). Larry also agreed to a money judgment of $700,000 (£564,000).

Ignored federal gambling laws

US Attorney Joseph Brown said of the case: “The Tillery’s ignored state and federal gambling laws and profited tremendously from a criminal enterprise. We intend to collect every bit of the money judgment that will be issued against them, and we expect Larry Tillery’s prison sentence to send a message to those who profit from illegal bookmaking.”

Larry Tillery defended himself, telling KFDM-TV of Beaumont, “I’m not a perfect man, made some mistakes. Stay away from the casinos.”

The family will be sentenced after the pre-sentence investigations are completed by the U.S. Probation Office.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *