Maryland – The Anne Arundel County Police Department will be getting some new equipment after receiving $470,407.62 as part of the seizure of money tied to a federal investigation into illegal gambling. Federal investigators shared the money after county detectives helped in an investigation that seized more than $33 million from gambling organizations using banks in Guam and Charlotte, NC. Police said they would use the money for equipment to assist with undercover investigations, plus new vehicles and weapons.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division led the probe, which centered on payment processors that move funds between online gamblers. County police have three officers assigned to ICE HSI in Baltimore. Detective Scott Dunn is assigned as an undercover officer exclusively with the money laundering task force. County police are currently involved in 12 federal task forces, including four with ICE. “This type of activity exists in this county just like it does in other jurisdictions,” County Executive John R. Leopold said. “Wherever we find it, we’re going to root it out.”
Federal investigators said they targeted online gambling sites because the proceeds from illegal gambling are often used to fund other illegal activity and organized crime. It is illegal for Internet gambling businesses to operate in Maryland, regardless of where the website is based. In its investigation, ICE HSI in Baltimore created a fictional payment-processor business, Linwood Payment Solutions, and spent between December 2009 and January 2011 processing more than 300,000 transactions worth more than $33 million. According to an affidavit tied to the case, ICE used a woman based in Maryland to set up an account on the gambling website BetEd.com and use the phony payment processor to receive funds.
In April, a federal grand jury indicted two companies and three men, who were then charged with conducting illegal gambling business and money laundering. The government also seized 11 bank accounts and the domain names of 10 gambling sites. “The cooperation between our department and [ICE HIS] investigation goes far beyond normal law enforcement task forces,” County Police Chief James Teare Sr. said. The investigation involving Anne Arundel County Police is separate from the investigation resulting in the closure last month of several major Internet poker sites including Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars.
Teare said the department receives an average of about $250,000 per year in forfeited assets. He said the $470,407.62 in assets announced Thursday is the largest one-time distribution in the department’s history. Leopold said he was happy to see the department receive new equipment as a result of the seizure. “Especially in these tough economic times, when I’ve had to make very unpleasant budget cuts, I’m pleased to see these revenues will come to the police department to help them out and help them do their job,” he said.