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Fourth man charged in ongoing Maryland online gambling investigation

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland filed gambling charges Dec. 7 against James Davitt, a man tied to two California companies whose assets had been seized earlier by federal authorities in Maryland. Davitt is the fourth man known to be charged criminally in the ongoing Maryland investigation into the money trail of illegal online gambling in the United States.

Earlier this year, a Missouri man, Kenneth Wienski, was accused of conducting a gambling business and laundering gambling proceeds, and in 2008, Edward Courdy and Michael Garone each faced money-laundering charges. The full scope of the federal investigation remains largely under wraps by judges’ orders to keep some proceedings sealed from public view.

The two-page document charging Davitt reveals no details about his alleged conduct, simply stating that he broke Maryland anti-gambling laws. The only specifics given are that, in June and July last year, Davitt did “knowingly and unlawfully conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, and own all or part of an illegal gambling business, to wit, a gambling business involving online internet poker” involving “five or more persons,” and that the business “remained in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days.”

The 12-page complaint against Wienski, which was filed in May, however, provides insights into Davitt’s alleged role via two California companies associated with him: HMD Inc., and Forshay Enterprises. Both companies already have seen their gambling-related assets seized and forfeited by the federal government. Wienski’s complaint lays out narrative of events that are alleged to have occurred in July and August last year, just after the time-frame when Davitt is accused of operating an illegal gambling enterprise.

After describing how investigators have used confidential informants to help target companies that process payments on behalf of online gambling companies, the Wienski complaint states that one of the informants “worked in conjunction with” a company named Electracash “to process collections and payouts of gambling money.” Bank records showed that Electracash, which was associated with Courdy, did business with Davitt’s companies, the complaint continues. Corroborated information from informants showed that one of Davitt’s companies, HMD, “handled check payouts of gambling winnings,” while collections from gamblers were handled by the company where Wienski used to work, Diversified Check Solutions, which used accounts in the name of a “fake medical billing company” called SNR to do so.

The contents of bank accounts in the names of HMD and Forshay Enterprises were seized by federal authorities in Maryland in 2009, and became subject to forfeiture proceedings earlier this year, along with assets seized from Electracash and another company, Direct Channel LLC. Court records indicate that a total of $1,686,318.36 was seized from the accounts of HDM and Forshay Enterprises. Electracash, meanwhile, recently negotiated a settlement agreement that resulted in the return of $1,022,028.26 of the $2,170,544.53 seized from its accounts.

Neither Davitt nor Wienski could be reached for comment for this article. The court dockets in their cases do not indicate that they have attorneys representing them, and neither has had a court appearance to answer the charges. The case against Garone was unsealed on Nov. 17—exactly a year after it was ordered sealed—revealing that he pleaded guilty in January and has not yet been sentenced. The status of Courdy’s case, however, remains unclear, as the record of its existence disappeared last fall—at around the same time Garone’s case was sealed—from the federal courts’ online system.

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