Feds Arrest Fugitive in Decade-Old Illegal Online Gambling Case ​​Linked to Former Congressman

Law enforcement arrested a man allegedly involved with Sports Offshore, an illegal offshore gambling ring connected to former Congressman John Tierney. The arrest comes 13 years after the man’s indictment for racketeering.

Federal authorities arrested Richard Sullivan, 73, of St. John’s, Antigua, on Aug. 20 in New York while he was in customs at JFK International Airport.

According to the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office, Sullivan was arraigned in a New York courtroom last week. His next appearance will be in a federal court in Boston.

In 2010, a federal grand jury indicted Sullivan for “racketeering, operating an illegal gambling business, transmission of wagering information, money laundering, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.”

Sullivan Co-Conspirators Shared Ties to Congressman

Allegedly, Sullivan operated Sports Offshore, an online gambling site licensed in Antigua but doing business illegally in the US. Co-conspirators in the operation included Todd Lyons and Robert and Daniel Eremain, brothers of former Congressman Tierney’s wife, Patrice.

At the time, the Democratic congressman from Salem denied knowledge of the gambling operation, according to The Salem News.

However, his wife pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting her brother Robert in filing false tax returns and received a sentence of 30 days in prison.

Despite that controversy, Tierney narrowly won reelection to Congress in 2012. Two years later, he lost to Seth Moulton (the current member) in the Democratic primary.

Tierney served the 6th District for 18 years, from 1997 to 2015. In 2016, Tierney became executive director of the Council for a Livable World, a nuclear arms control political action committee based in the District of Columbia.

Ficticious Companies Allegedly Laundered Sports Offshore Proceeds

According to a release from the state attorney’s office, Sports Offshore served US customers through an online site and a toll-free number registered in Antigua. The business allegedly collected over $22 million in revenue and laundered over $10 million in checks and wire transfers during its operation.

Specifically, the indictment accused Sullivan of managing the daily activities in Sports Offshore’s Antigua office.

The release alleges Sullivan supervised a stable of up to 50 employees who accepted US wagers online and over the phone. As part of his duties, authorities say he commanded collection activities for customers with outstanding debt.

Sullivan is also accused of serving as an agent for Sports Offshore, overseeing a group of Massachusetts-based bettors and earning commissions on their losses.

The release also alleges that he “utilized individuals who resided in Massachusetts to collect money from his Massachusetts customers.”

Money collected was then allegedly sent to Antigua in the mail.

To conceal the conspiracy, the US Attorney alleged Sullivan and his co-conspirators created fictitious entities to launder the illegal gambling proceeds to prevent authorities from detecting US-based financial transactions involving Sports Offshore.

Alleged Co-Conspirators Convicted in 2011

Notably, Massachusetts courts convicted Daniel Eremian and Lyons in 2011.

Lyons received a four-year sentence and an order to forfeit $24.6 million in ill-gotten proceeds. The court gave Daniel Eremian a three-year sentence and ordered forfeiture of $7.7 million.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, this was one of the first cases of individuals facing charges for violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

In Massachusetts, the charges marked the first application of the law since its 2006 enactment.

Until last week, Sullivan and Robert Eremian had remained fugitives, refusing to leave Antigua to stand trial since the indictments.

With Sullivan’s arrest, only Eremian remains at large.

DOJ Responds to Regulators’ Illegal Gambling Concerns

In a timely move, yesterday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) posted a letter on Twitter from the DOJ in response to a joint letter sent to the Justice Department earlier this year.

That letter, penned by regulators from seven states — including Nevada — urged federal action on illegal online gambling.

In DOJ’s response, intergovernmental liaison Megan A. Bennett wrote:

We appreciate your views on this matter. The Department has undertaken, and continues to pursue, investigations into illegal gaming. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the investigative arm of the Department tasked with vetting allegations of violations of federal gaming laws. When the violations have been sustained, the FBI will forward the allegations to the appropriate federal prosecuting authority to pursue charges, likely a US Attorney’s Office in the jurisdiction where the crimes have occurred.

The Department takes seriously the issue of illegal gambling, including illegal online gambling, and continues to successfully investigate and prosecute illegal Internet gambling. The FBI works hard to establish and maintain strong partnerships with both public and private entities to combat illegal gaming. The Department appreciates the adverse impact illegal gambling has on individuals and communities and will continue to use all available tools to detect, investigate, and prosecute such illegal activity.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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