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Kankakee Operator Of Illegal Gambling Business Convicted Of Money Laundering And Structuring Financial Transactions

April 25, 2012

Urbana, Ill. – Today, a federal jury in Urbana, Ill., returned verdicts of guilty against Jimmy A. LaCost, 65, for structuring financial transactions and for laundering the proceeds of his illegal gambling business. The jury deliberated approximately one and one-half days before finding LaCost guilty of the charges against him, 54 counts of structuring and one count of money laundering.

U.S. District Judge Harold A. Baker has not set a sentencing date pending a status hearing scheduled on Monday, April 30, 2012, to discuss sentencing issues, including potential forfeitures. The government is seeking forfeiture of the proceeds and property used to facilitate the illegal gambling business and the money involved in the structuring and money laundering offenses.

At trial, which began on April 16, the jury found that Jimmy LaCost structured approximately $6.4 million in cash deposits over four years, from January 2005 to July 2009, to evade Currency Transaction Reporting (CTR) requirements. Specifically, the evidence at trial established that Jimmy LaCost has had signatory authority over the business bank account of LaCost Amusements, Inc., since Dec. 6, 1999, at a Kankakee bank. Financial institutions are required to complete and file CTRs with the Internal Revenue Service when persons deposit more than $10,000 in U.S. currency as a part of a transaction. The jury found that Jimmy LaCost structured 54 monthly deposits, beginning in January 2005 through June 2009, when cash deposits of less than $10,000 were made on at least two or three consecutive days. During this period, cash deposits totaled approximately $6,390,972. The jury also found Jimmy LaCost guilty of money laundering related to the bank deposits of proceeds from the operation of the illegal gambling business.

LaCost, his son, Michael W. LaCost, 42, both of the 2700 block of River Road, Kankakee, Ill., and LaCost Amusements had previously pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2012, to conducting an illegal gambling business in Kankakee County from January 2005 until July 2009. During court proceedings, including at the February 2012 plea hearing, LaCost Amusements Inc., Jimmy LaCost, and his son Michael, admitted that they provided various video gambling machines to numerous bars, restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores in Central Illinois. Patrons of the establishments used the machines for illegal gambling in violation of Illinois law, and LaCost Amusements split the illegal profits with the establishments.

The defendants further admitted that LaCost Amusements, Inc. employed five or more individuals who participated in conducting the illegal gambling operation, which remained in substantially continuous operation from at least January 2005 through July 8, 2009, and at times had gross revenue of $2000 or more in a single day.

In January 2010, a federal grand jury charged LaCost Amusements, Inc., located at 1898 West Court Street, Kankakee, Illinois, and its owner, Jimmy A. LaCost, with conducting an illegal gambling business, structuring $6.4 million in cash deposits, and money laundering. The indictment also charged Jimmy LaCost’s son, Michael, with his father with conducting an illegal gambling business.

The offense of illegal gambling carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000; each count of unlawful money structuring carries a statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000; money laundering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

The Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation of the charges. At trial, the government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugene L. Miller and Timothy A. Bass.

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