News and Press Releases

Columbia-Area Men Sentenced on Gambling Charges

January 8, 2013

Contact Person: Winston Holliday (803) 929-3000

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Lanny Ray Gunter II, age 42, of Chapin, was sentenced to five months in prison, to be followed by five months home confinement, for his role in a Columbia-area gambling operation. Gunter also was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000. Harry Bruce Benenhaley, age 66, of Columbia, and Ronald Dale Spence, age 61, of Irmo, both were sentenced to five years probation, including six months of home confinement, and ordered to pay fines of $2,000. All pled guilty to Conduct of an Illegal Gambling Business, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1955, on October 31, 2012. United States District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie of Columbia presided over today’s hearing.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between 2006 and 2012, Lanny Gunter, Harry Benenhaley, and Ronald Spence conducted a sports gambling business located in the Columbia area. Gunter supervised the business, provided financing when necessary, and directed the web operation. Benenhaley oversaw day-to-day operations at Gunter's direction. This included receiving and monitoring text messages early on, answering the phones, looking at daily statistics, making pick-ups and drop-offs, then later (around 2010) verifying information on the gambling web sites used by the organization. Spence ran his own gambling operation that eventually merged into and shared profits with Gunter and Benenhaley, with each receiving 25% to Spence's 50%. The three made use of an Irmo-area business to drop off and pick up gambling proceeds.

The primary betting activity took place during football and basketball seasons, but included baseball more recently. The business had 30 to 35 regular clients and 20 to 30 "spot" players.

The case was investigated by agents of the United States Secret Service and investigators from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Winston D. Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office handled the case.

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