AUGUSTA, GA: Two Waynesboro, Ga., men and a Greenwood, S.C., man have admitted to federal charges for participating in a longtime illegal gambling operation.
Grady Brandon Mobley, 44, and Daniel Cates, 50, both of Waynesboro, Ga., and Joel Rees, 59, of Greenwood, S.C, entered guilty pleas to Informations charging each of them with Prohibition of an Illegal Gambling Business, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Mobley also pled guilty to Fraud and False Statements.
In accordance with the plea agreement, Mobley faces a negotiated sentence of 12 months plus one day in federal prison, and has forfeited $340,084. He also agrees to pay $207,716 in restitution to the IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue, and a fine of $2,000. Cates agreed to the forfeiture of $100,000.
After plea hearings before U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall, each of the three men were released on bond pending sentencing and formal acceptance of the plea agreement at a later date.
“These men participated in an illegal gambling operation for at least a decade in the Waynesboro area, eventually funneling business through a foreign-based website,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “But even that offshore venture wouldn’t keep them out of the reach of diligent law enforcement professionals who turned the tables on this illicit operation.”
As described in court documents and testimony, Mobley operated as a “bookie” for an illegal sports betting operation for at least the past 10 years in Burke County, at first collecting bets and paying out winnings himself, and later through a sports betting website operated from Costa Rica.
In 2015, Mobley merged his operation and began splitting his profits with a smaller gambling ring operated by Jones. From 2015 to 2017, Mobley cashed bettor’s checks totaling approximately $220,000 at his parent’s check cashing business which operated out of the Mobley Package Shop in Girard, Ga. To help conceal the growing amount of cash involved in the transactions, Mobley enlisted the assistance of Cates, who admitted that he funneled approximately $250,000 in gambling proceeds through his Waynesboro tire store, Cates Firestone, in return for money and favors from Mobley.
During this period, Mobley admitted filing false information on his income tax returns to conceal the amount of proceeds from the illegal gambling operation.
“No matter how hard these defendants tried to hide their illegal operation, their greed ultimately caught up with them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “FBI agents will pursue criminal activity that violates our Constitution, no matter where an investigation takes them, and along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office will hold them accountable.”
“Schemes concealing funds in order to evade income tax, such as those utilized by Mobley, are unfair to every taxpayer who obeys the law and pays their fair share,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey. “The public should know that IRS-Criminal Investigation will do everything we can to hold individuals accountable for their actions.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigations, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara M. Lyons and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham.