January 18, 2017
By Margaret Baker
GULFPORT – Two South Mississippi men pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges for their role in an illegal online sports betting probe in the U.S. and through Costa Rica.
Christopher U. Anthony and Russell B. Miller waived indictment and pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to transmit wagering information. Both men are free on $25,000 bonds pending sentencing April 18.
The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of up to two years and a $250,000 fine.
Both men traveled to Costa Rica on April 24, 2014, to deliver payments to whoever set up the gambling websites for illegal sports betting, mostly involving football, court records say.
Online sports betting is illegal in the United States but it is legal in Costa Rica.
Kenneth Schmitt, a Diamondhead bookmaker also charged in the case, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in December. He is free pending a March 23 sentencing.
Miller’s involvement began in September 2009 and continued through April, the charging document says.
Anthony took part in the illegal trade from April 4, 2014, until some time in May 2014.
Schmitt’s involvement was between September 2009 and May 2014.
All three men kept the online betting confidential to protect the gambler’s identities, according to court records. The crimes occurred in Diamondhead and Biloxi.
The gambling network used various agents to oversee gambling groups and password-protected sports books were set up for routine betting, court papers say.
Sun Herald reporter Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.