Tuesday night police, in San Antonio, executed a series of search warrants on several residences and properties believed to be involved in an illegal internet gambling ring, including the home of Richard Lee, sixth place finisher at this year's World Series of Poker Main Event. In their searches, police seized "...hundreds of thousands of dollars, vehicles, at least ten vehicles, high-end electronics, computers, monitors..." and other items believed to either have been used in the execution of an internet gambling ring or purchased with proceeds from those activities.
San Antonio police spokesman Officer Joe Rios said in an interview with Pokerworks that operations initially appeared to include sports bookmaking over the internet and via telephone, as well as other gambling activities on a gambling website operated out of San Antonio. While no one has been charged at this time, it is quite possible that more than local regulations have been broken in this case. With the "thousands and thousands of people" implicated in the operation and use of this website, federal laws may have been violated as well. "We're currently pursuing this on the state level, but charges on the federal level could kick in at any time," said Rios via telephone on Wednesday.
Last night's raids were the result of an ongoing sting operation by San Antonio Vice Department's internet crimes division, a portion of the vice squad tasked with tracking down illegal activity online from child pornography and identity theft to internet gambling. "If it's illegal and on the internet, we're after it." According to Rios, officers spent several months observing activity on this website and placing bets to gather evidence prior to last night's searches.
Lee, who has not been charged with any crimes at this point, came to national attention early this month with his final table appearance at the World Series of Poker Main Event tournament. He eventually finished in sixth place, earning nearly $3 Million for his work there, losing when he ran his pocket Jacks into eventual winner Jamie Gold's pocket Queens.
Jamie Gold is currently experiencing his own legal troubles, as a district court judge has issued an order preventing Harrah's (owner of the World Series of Poker and host hotel The Rio) from paying out the $12 million first prize due to a lawsuit filed by poker player Crispin Leyser alleging that Gold promised half of any winnings to Leyser in a verbal agreement.