A federal judge in Boston has ordered US Representative John F. Tierney’s brother-in-law to forfeit $7.7 million in assets for his role in an illegal sports betting scheme that also ensnared Tierney’s wife.
US District Court Judge Patti B. Saris wrote in a ruling filed Monday that Daniel Eremian, 62, of Boca Raton, Fla., must forfeit the money because of his actions on behalf of Sports Offshore, the Antigua-based gambling website that authorities say he operated with his brother, Robert, who was also charged in the scheme but who remains a fugitive. Prosecutors had sought a forfeiture order of more than $30 million from Daniel Eremian.
Saris ordered a codefendant, Todd Lyons, 38, of Beverly, to forfeit $24.5 million in assets. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced June 28 and could face several years in prison.
A lawyer for Eremian did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Lyons’s attorney, Peter C. Horstmann of Boston, declined to comment Tuesday on Saris’s forfeiture order. Horstmann has not filed a sentencing request and declined to say what sentence he will recommend to Saris.
“Obviously we’d like him to have no time at all,” Horstmann said.
The gambling ring, prosecutors said, collected tens of millions of dollars in profits over a decade from US bettors who owed money, and Lyons and Daniel Eremian collected debts that were funneled back to Antigua, prosecutors said.
Both men were convicted in December of racketeering and other charges, but were acquitted of multiple counts of money laundering in the more than 50-count indictment.
Lyons was the first person in the United States to be convicted under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was enacted in 2006 to prevent the US banking system from paying Internet gambling debts incurred by US citizens.
Tierney’s wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty in 2010 to helping Robert Eremian falsify his tax filings, and she admitted to “willful blindness” in not reporting the gambling operation. She was sentenced to a month in prison and five months of house arrest and was released from prison in March 2011.
There was no allegation that her husband, a Salem Democrat, was aware of the betting ring, and he has denied any knowledge of it.
Saris wrote in Monday’s ruling that Daniel Eremian argues that he caused little harm, because the bettors he managed were wealthy and did not suffer economic distress as a result of their gambling.
“He points out that many of the winning bettors decided to ‘let it ride’ rather than recoup their winnings,” she wrote.
Saris said that while most bettors were not harmed, at least one had money troubles as a result of his losses. And, she said, “societal harm is caused by committing acts that Congress has criminalized.”
She also wrote that Lyons contends that proceeds he collected before 2001 are not subject to forfeiture because online betting was not illegal under Massachusetts, federal, or Antigua law at the time.
However, Saris wrote, bets placed by telephone before 2001 in Massachusetts and Florida violated the law in those states.