By Jeff Lehr
A federal judge has granted busted Joplin sports bookie William Lisle probation on his two convictions related to the running of an illegal sports gambling operation on the Internet.
At a hearing Wednesday in federal court in Springfield, U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr fined Lisle $2,000 and ordered him confined to his home for the first six months of two years he must complete on probation. The judge also ordered that Lisle forfeit $98,263 in gambling proceeds seized in a search of his home by FBI and IRS agents on Feb. 8, 2011.
Lisle and co-defendant Kenneth B. Lovett, 72, of Joplin, were indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this year for using the Internet to run a sports gambling operation from January 2003 through February 2011 that primarily involved betting on National Football League games. Both were charged with transmitting wagering information over the Internet; Lisle also faced 15 counts of money laundering.
Lisle pleaded guilty in July to single counts of transmitting wagering information and money laundering in a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield. Lovett had pleaded guilty in May to the single count he faced and received the same sentence as Lisle at a hearing Oct. 18.
As a condition of their probation, both men are prohibited from entering any gaming establishments or engaging in any gambling, including Internet or offshore gambling.
According to federal court records, Lovett created and ran a sports-betting operation in Joplin before taking Lisle on as a partner in 2006. In 2010, Lisle’s share of the business increased to 60 percent.
The defendants began paying two offshore Internet websites, BETEAGLE and GOTOHC, to administer their local bookmaking business in 2006. The server for the websites was in Costa Rica, and Lovett and Lisle would provide their customers with an account number and password to access the websites, obtain betting lines and place wagers.
The websites kept running totals of players’ wins and losses, and the two bookies paid the websites a fee for each gambler that typically ranged from $16 to $25 per week, according to court records. The operation reportedly flourished for five years, with their number of customers and the amounts wagered steadily increasing until a federal investigation closed it down.
Clyde A. Jeffries, 76, a former Joplin resident currently living in Las Vegas, pleaded guilty in federal court in July to running a separate Internet sports bookmaking operation in the city between October 2010 and February 2011. He is still awaiting sentencing.