June 23, 2010
LEADER OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING AND MONEY LAUNDERING OPERATION SENTENCED TO 12 MONTHS IN PRISON
(HOUSTON) - Thanh V. (Tommy) Bui, 33, has been sentenced to 12 months in federal prison for conspiracy to launder funds and operate an illegal gambling business, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno today announced today. United States District Court Judge Keith P. Ellison also assessed Bui a fine of $114,000.
Bui operated at least six illegal game rooms in Galveston and Harris counties - the Lucky 777 on the Gulf Freeway, the Amusement Palace on FM 2004, the Bay Area on Friendswood Link, the O.C. on Long Point, the Coffee Shop on Scarsdale and the Hideway on 12th Street in Baycliff. Some of these establishments contained approximately 50 electronic gaming machines, commonly known as “8-liners.” The game rooms were typically open only to private members and some operated 24 hours a day. The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) were tipped off to the illegal gaming operation based on robberies and other criminal conduct occurring at the game rooms.
Bui concealed the operation by placing business assets and assets purchased with proceeds from the illegal business in the name of third persons, destroying business records each day, paying employees in cash and structuring the purchase of assets with business profits in a manner to avoid financial transaction reporting requirements mandated by federal law. These assets included a shopping center, residences and luxury automobiles. The game rooms generated more than $1 million a year and almost $4 million during the course of the conspiracy. Bui pleaded guilty on Oct. 10, 2009, to conspiracy to launder funds of the illegal gaming operation.
In November 2008, federal search warrants were executed on several of the illegal game rooms and area residences with more than $70,000 in cash seized as well as a 2007 Mercedes Benz S550 purchased with proceeds of the illegal operation in a structured fashion to avoid the financial transaction reporting requirements. Those assets have been forfeited to the United States which will be shared with the Dickinson and League City Police Departments. In addition, today Bui also forfeited a 1991 Acura NSX sports car and another $114,000 in cash. Bui remains on bond pending his reporting date to a federal penitentiary.
Russell Wayne Achord Jr., 40, was also sentenced today for his role in the conspiracy to three years supervised release. James Arthur Burke Jr., 30, who worked in one of the game rooms and purchased money orders with the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation to disguise the source of the funds, was sentenced in 2009 to two years probation after pleading guilty to structuring financial transactions to avoid detection. All defendants are from the Clear Lake area.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the IRS with the assistance of the Dickinson Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ryan D. McConnell with the assistance of Assistant United States Attorney Gerald Doyle in the Asset Forfeiture Division.
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