25 arrested in 5 states in NY Web gambling probe

NEW YORK -- Three owners of an Internet gambling website that boasts of having customers in 100 countries have been indicted, along with 22 other people, on charges that they were part of a betting ring took tens of millions of dollars from people in the United States, prosecutors said Thursday.

People were arrested in five states Wednesday as part of a sweeping investigation aimed at bookmakers and money couriers connected to Internet and phone gambling, including men who prosecutors identified as owners of the online gambling site Pinnacle Sports.

The three, Brandt England, of Las Vegas, George Molsbarger, of Santa Monica, Calif., and Stanley Tomchin, of Montecito, Calif., were charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering and conspiracy. England faced an additional charge of promoting gambling.

England's lawyer in Las Vegas, David Chesnoff, said, "We certainly intend to defend this matter vigorously in court." He declined to address the specifics of the allegations, saying he was new to the case.

The probe was led by investigators from the New York Police Department, but multiple state, municipal and federal law enforcement agencies were involved, and arrests took place in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and California.

The Queens district attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case, said that in one 18-month period the gambling operation took in $50 million in profit while using computer servers in gambling friendly countries to try to hide dealings with bettors in the U.S.

Gamblers placed bets over the phone and at least four websites, while the ring used dummy accounts to hide the flow of money and couriers to transport cash profits to and from Panama and Costa Rica, authorities said.

Pinnacle Sports sidestepped the issues of whether it was involved in illegal gambling in the U.S. and whether England, Molsbarger and Tomchin were owners of the site.

"Regarding the recent allegations surrounding the individuals allegedly affiliated with Pinnacle Sports, please be reassured that no Pinnacle Sports employees have been arrested or charged, and Pinnacle Sports itself was not charged in the indictment," it said in an emailed statement. "We expect no interruptions to our day to day business activities at this time."

No one returned a phone message left at a number listed in Tomchin's name Thursday. Molsbarger's phone number isn't publicly listed.

Other people indicted in the case include a manager of the legal sports betting operation at the M Resort Spa Casino in Nevada and men in several states who prosecutors said had worked as bookmakers or money handlers.