Operator of Illegal Gambling Business Plotted to Steal Military Equipment

  • Nathan Nichols will forfeit over $2.18m in criminal proceeds and is facing significant prison time
  • He was involved in two businesses that offered illegal sweepstakes games to gamblers
  • Three other men were indicted as part of the illegal gambling investigation
  • Nichols also pleaded guilty for his role in selling stolen military equipment worth about $2.18m
man in jail cell
The operator of an illegal gambling operation in Texas has also pleaded guilty to his role in the theft of military equipment. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A significant operation

A man in Texas who was running an illegal gambling business has also admitted to having a role in the theft of military equipment. US Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery announced on Monday that Nathan Nichols has entered guilty pleas relating to both operating an illegal gambling business and the plot to steal government property.

The 46-year-old admitted that he operated the illegal gambling business between March 2018 and August 2019 in Corpus Christi. He also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to steal certain sensitive government property in June 2021 from a US Army facility at Fort Hood.

Nichols will forfeit over $2.18m worth of illegal criminal proceeds

Through the guilty pleas, Nichols will forfeit over $2.18m worth of illegal criminal proceeds. US District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos will sentence Nichols on June 21. He is facing as much as five years in prison for every conviction and will stay in custody until the sentencing hearing.

The illegal gambling business

Nathan Nichols owned and operated Lady Luck and was the co-owner of Theo’s Bar. Illegal gambling devices were in operation at both of these locations. They included sweepstakes games in which patrons used computers to gamble rather than traditional types of slot machines.

The software simulated the spinning of slot reels instead of physical reels. Gamblers would place their bets in advance of every spin, receiving any winnings in cash.

Gambling laws are very restrictive in Texas, with no types of slot machine-style games allowed at commercial establishments.

Three other men were also part of the original indictment relating to the illegal gambling business. In addition to the illegal gambling charges, they were hit with money laundering charges. During the investigation, the authorities seized millions of dollars, gold bars, and numerous vehicles, including a Lamborghini.

Stealing military equipment

The other bizarre component to the story is Nichols admitting that he conspired to steal military equipment with other people. The sensitive goods were worth about $2.18m and were the property of the US Army. Nichols was in contact with one of the people who stole the equipment and asked for pictures of the stolen goods before purchasing them. After getting the items, Nichols put them up for sale on eBay.

The FBI was the chief investigator for the illegal gambling side of the case, working alongside the Corpus Christi Police Department. Homeland Security Investigations led the investigation for the stolen military equipment, getting help from Asset Forfeiture.

The authorities secured a search warrant for Nichols’ home last July. They found military equipment such as night-vision goggles, thermal scopes, laser range finders, and night vision scopes at the residence. All of these items were US Army property.