State officials busted a multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting operation, charging 33 people for allegedly running a sophisticated enterprise that utilized an off-shore website and a network of agents in Boston and the South Shore area, prosecutors said Friday.
A Suffolk grand jury indicted the 33 suspects this week on a total of 122 counts, including money laundering and registering bets, for operating the Costa Rica-based betting website, Attorney General Maura Healey's office said in a statement. More than 700 people had placed bets on the website, amounting to about $6 million worth of bets from May 2014 to May 2015.
The investigation into the website, which functioned under the name PerHead, began in August 2014 when the State Police Special Service Section's Organized Crime Unit received information that a piece of the operation was based in Boston.
Throughout the investigation, authorities seized $450,000 in cash, three guns, and six vehicles. Prosecutors said the operation's yearly profits were more than $3 million.
"These charges are the culmination of a thorough, months-long joint investigation that uncovered an extensive illegal gambling operation in Massachusetts," Healey said in the statement. "These defendants amassed a network of bettors in a multimillion dollar enterprise that utilized an off-shore betting website for their bookkeeping in an attempt to circumvent state gambling laws.
John Woodman, a 43-year-old Braintree man, is the suspected leader of the organization. He allegedly oversaw a network of more than 30 agents who solicited bets from Massachusetts residents. Prosecutors said the agents collected debts and paid winnings to the bettors in person.
Woodman is charged with money laundering, organizing and promoting illegal gaming, registering bets, using the telephone to register bets, conspiracy to register bets and other violations, prosecutors said.
Colonel Richard D. McKeon, superintendent of the State Police, said in the statement that the department has a long history of investigating and enforcing illegal gaming within the state.
"We will continue to work together with prosecutors to hold accountable those who circumvent the state's gambling laws," he said.
Other suspects within the organization facing charges include Frederick Stevenson, 45, who allegedly worked as the "master agent," managing most of the other agents; Keefe Sheppeck, 39, who allegedly worked as a "sub-agent," overseeing several of his own agents; and Daniel Conway, 47, who allegedly acted as an "enforcer" for gamblers who fell behind on payments.
Travis Prescott, whose age and location prosecutors did not release, allegedly owned and operated the website.
All the suspects are scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on Nov. 30.
In addition to the charges on the 33 operators, prosecutors have also charged the PerHead corporation with the same charges as Woodman.