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EXCLUSIVE: Feds Seek Asset Forfeiture in Massive Beaumont-based Illegal Gambling Operation

Federal agents raided this business and several others in a raid linked to illegal sports betting. Google Street View Image

Following a three-year undercover federal investigation, criminal charges appear imminent for two Beaumont men and their associates who ran separate but affiliated illegal sports betting empires using local banks, area businesses and real estate ventures to help launder millions of dollars, structure cash transactions to avoid reporting requirements and dodge taxes on their ill-gotten booty, SETINVESTIGATES.COM has confirmed.

A recent raid on Daylight Motors wasn’t the only business federal agents from Homeland Security, the IRS and the FBI searched earlier this month, as sources told SETINVESTIGATES.COM multiple locations were hit simultaneously, including private homes and businesses belonging to Larry Tillery and Ray Duplantis. All of the locations were linked in federal documents provided to SETINVESTIGATES.COM, to an elaborate network of underworld gambling operations that used secret codes, Internet Web sites and money drops linked to either Tillery or Duplantis.

Although the real property was not seized during the raids, at least, $230,000 in cash was taken from Tillery along with an Audi R8 from Duplantis. Other items may have been seized, as well, including cell phones, computer hard drives and the contents of trash cans at various properties belonging to the two men.

According to the documents, the government is also seeking forfeiture claims for the following property belonging to Tillery:

• 6140 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 5 Estates of Montclaire, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 5269 Westgate, Lumberton, Hardin County, Texas;
• 4320 Christina Court, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 6215 Gracemount, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 3655 Grayson, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 1355 11th N Street, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas;
• 1502 Calder, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas; and
• 18428 N. 14th Street, Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona.

“Based on my training and experience and the facts as set forth in this affidavit, there is probable cause to believe that Larry Ernest Tillery (“LARRY TILLERY”) and his associates are operating an illegal gambling and money laundering enterprise in violation of the following statutes of the United States Code:

• Title 18, Section 1084 – transmission of wagering information;
• Title 18, Section 1952 – interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises;
• Title 18, Section 1955 – prohibition of illegal gambling businesses;
• Title 18, Section 1956 – laundering of monetary instruments;
• Title 18, Section 1957 – engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity;
• Title 26, Section 6050 – Failing to report currency transactions in excess of $10,000
• Title 31, Section 5324 – Structuring currency transactions to avoid reporting requirements

“I believe the above-listed property is subject to forfeiture to the United States pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a) and 31 U.S.C. § 5317(c) because it constitutes property involved in transactions or attempted transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. 5 §§ 1955, 1956, and 1957, and/or is property traceable to violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1084 and 1952 and 31 U.S.C. § 5324,” the documents states.

For Tillery’s part, he has booked (taken bets on) sports in Southeast Texas for four decades and it wasn’t a well-kept secret. According to federal documents, which show brief transcripts from wiretaps on his cell phone, Tillery even admitted to unlawfully taking sports bets for “forty years.” He is known as “Action Jackson” and can handle hundreds of thousands of dollars in wagers. In fact, Duplantis, who is a smaller-scale bookie, admitted he would pass off his larger bets to Tillery, the documents show.

“In April 2014, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRSCI) initiated an investigation on the bookmaking and money laundering activities of Larry Tillery and his associates,” states the ‘Facts Supporting Forfeiture’ section of the document, signed by Special Agent Johnathan Thomas, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joined the investigation in July of 2014. To date, the investigation has found evidence that Larry Tillery is operating an illegal sports betting operation with bettors located nationwide. The investigation has also found evidence that Larry Tillery is evading taxes associated with his gambling activities. Larry Tillery’s criminal associates include, but are not limited to, his wife Judy Tillery, his son Brian Tillery, his daughter Tara Miller, Raymond Duplantis, and Corey Loupe.

“In March of 2015, an HSI undercover agent (“UCA”) began betting on sporting events with Raymond Duplantis. The UCA and Duplantis conducted numerous gambling transactions via the internet, phone, mail, and in person from March 2015 until February 3, 2017. During this timeframe, the UCA inquired about Larry Tillery. Duplantis admitted to knowing Larry Tillery and implied that Larry Tillery was a bookmaker on a much larger financial scale than Duplantis himself was. Duplantis explained that while he had more customers, Larry Tillery accepted significantly larger monetary wagers. For example, Duplantis stated Larry Tillery would accept a one hundred thousand dollar ($100,000) bet on an individual sporting event.”

About a year after the undercover agent began making bets with Duplantis, he was introduced to Tillery in March 2016 because he wanted to make larger bets that Duplantis could handle. The meeting, which took place in Houston, involved the exchange of $15,000 in cash to be put on the undercover agent’s gambling account. The agent would then make bets and the account would be debited or credited depending his wins and losses. The undercover agent met with Tillery in the parking lot of a Louisiana gas station on June 5, 2016, and gave Tillery $20,000 in cash. Afterwards law enforcement followed Tillery to his home in Beaumont. On July 19, 2016, the document states the undercover agent gave Larry Tillery’s son, Brian, a total of $15,000 in cash and then law enforcement officials followed him back to Daylight Auto on 11th Street in Beaumont.

“The UCA began betting with Larry Tillery over the phone on March 24, 2016 and made fifty-five (55) wagers totaling $376,903.50 as of February 1, 2017. The UCA has paid Larry Tillery and his associate(s) a total of $129,000 in advance payments. One of these payments was $15,000 in currency the UCA delivered to his daughter, Tara Miller, in Arizona. According to the UCA, Miller knew at the time she received the money on behalf of her father that it was for the purpose of illegal sports gambling. Twenty-two (22) of the wagers made, totaling $170,899, were conducted telephonically with Larry Tillery. Thirty-three (33) of the wagers, totaling $206,004.50, were made on a website controlled by Larry Tillery, that your affiant has identified as www.luckyducksports.com.”

SETINVESTIGATES.COM contacted, and recorded, a phone call with an operator at luckyducksports.com, who explained how the system worked and that the company was located in Costa Rica. She also asked for a “code or password” but when she was told he reporter didn’t have a password, she didn’t hesitate to provide insight on how to obtain the credentials needed to access the site.

“In order to get an account, sir, you have to have a contact that has our service,” the woman said. “We do not cater service to players alone, we do it for agents, actually. If you know a customer of an agent, or you know a player that has an account here then that person could refer you to the agent and the agent then would be the one giving you the information that you can use to access your account and then get started with the, with the wagering part of it basically.”

Since Tillery would be considered an agent, he would be the one responsible for providing the codes and access information to his players, which is detailed in the federal document.

“On August 9, 2016, Larry Tillery told the UCA that he uses a website called www.luckyducksports.com to manage his sportsbook and that the UCA could place bets on there if the UCA desired to. The UCA expressed interest in the website and Larry Tillery told the UCA that Larry Tillery’s son, Brian Tillery would call the UCA and provide the UCA with a logon and password for the website to begin betting on the website. Later that day on August 9, 2016, Brian Tillery provided the UCA with a logon and password for www.luckyducksports.com.”

After making numerous cash transactions with Tillery and obtaining credentials to access luckyducksports.com, agents secured a federal wiretap in September 2016 for Tillery’s cellular and home phones. Agents also wiretapped Brian Tillery’s cell phone for 30 days from December 2016 to January 2017.

“Numerous phone calls were recorded of Larry Tillery taking wagers over the phone, speaking with his criminal associates, and discussing the website. Approximately $5,271,150 in wagers from twenty-four (24) bettors were recorded in intercepted calls from September 15, 2016 through December 7, 2016,” states the document. “On September 19, 2016, Larry Tillery spoke with a gambling associate, George Abdallah at 12:15 p.m. CDT. This call was intercepted by law enforcement. During this conversation, Abdallah tried to convince Larry Tillery to come to Houston on a Friday. Larry Tillery refused, specifically indicating that he needed to stay home to be available to manage gambling activities on his website. The following is an excerpt of this conversation:

LARRY : It’s impossible for me to do business on Friday and on the
weekends. It’s impossible.
GEORGE: On Friday?
LARRY: Yeah, I’m sitting here at this house, you know? I got like
everybody on the computer…except like… I just need like
three (3) more people and that’s it. I have them all in the
computer, but there’s a lot of things. Sometimes, they want to
raise their credit line, uh you know? Stuff like that. They call
and they can’t get in. They [U/I] and they can’t get on the
internet, you know? It’s all kinds of problems.
GEORGE: [STAMMERS] Friday ‘cause we, ‘cause it’s one of biggest days. [COUGHS]
LARRY: I can’t do Friday.
GEORGE: [COUGHS]
LARRY: [Unintelligible].
GEORGE: On Friday?
LARRY: Yeah, on Friday.
GEORGE: There’s really not that many games on Friday in College…
LARRY: I understand, but I got Saturday.
GEORGE: Yeah, Saturday that’s your big day.
LARRY: Yeah, so I have to rest the night before. ‘Cause I’m gonna be sitting here from about nine-thirty (9:30) in the morning till midnight. [EXHALES]
GEORGE: [SIGHS]
LARRY: No way!

“In another intercepted call on September 19, 2016 at 9:09 am CDT, Larry Tillery and a man named “DJ” were discussing DJ’s gambling account on the website. Larry Tillery had difficulty finding DJ’s account on the website and Larry Tillery stated that he has three hundred and forty (340) “accounts” so it can be a little confusing for him. From my training and experience, I know that each bettor usually has one account on a sports betting website.”

The federal document lists numerous phone conversations between Larry Tillery and his gambling associates, including the company that manages luckyducksports.com. On October 25, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. a Lucky Duck Sports representative called Tillery and discussed his making a payment for services to the company. Larry Tillery agreed to meet with “Andrea” at Houston Intercontinental Airport the following day and give her $30,000 and that money would be “applied to his balance.”

As for Tillery’s banking in the United States, his account, which was first opened on Sept. 5, 2007, at Community Bank of Texas under the name Lamar Capital, “shows that this account was used to deposit multiple checks, and receive wire transfers, from persons who illegally wagered with Larry Tillery on sporting events,” the document states. The following checks and wire transfers totaling approximately $3,650,214 were deposited into this account from 2014 through 2016:

• On November 3, 2014, a check from R.D. in the amount of $47,600 was deposited;
• On November 19, 2014, a check from R.D. in the amount of $33,000 was deposited;
• On December 3, 2014, a check from R.D. in the amount of $65,000 was deposited;
• On March 16, 2015, a check from R.D. in the amount of $28,500 was deposited;
• On May 4, 2015, a wire transfer from P.C. was deposited in the amount of $1,700,000;
• On November 17, 2015, a check from C.W. in the amount of $30,000 was deposited;
• On December 22, 2015, a check from R.D. in the amount of $20,000 was deposited;
• On December 30, 2015, a check from A.H. in the amount of $25,000 was deposited;
• On April 6, 2016, a check from C.K. was deposited for $160,000;
• On June 28, 2016, a check from B.C. was deposited for $81,750;
• On August 4, 2016, a check from C.K.L. was deposited for $100,000;
• On August 15, 2016, a check from C.K.L. was deposited for $277,000;
• On August 15, 2016, a check from B.O. was deposited for $150,000;
• On September 16, 2016, a check from B.D. was deposited for $34,364;
• On September 28, 2016 a check from R.D. was deposited for $18,000;
• On September 28, 2016, a check from R.D. was deposited for $20,000;
• On September 29, 2016, a check from C.K.L. was deposited for $100,000;
• On October 4, 2016, a wire transfer from C.K. was deposited for $50,000;
• On October 27, 2017 a check from R.D. was deposited for $15,000;
• On November 4, 2016, a check from “Southwest Wholesale” signed by A.H. was deposited for $20,000;
• On November 21, 2016, a check from J.S. was deposited for $100,000;
• On November 23, 2016, a check from B.O. was deposited for $375,000;
• On December 12, 2016, a wire transfer from B.O. was deposited for $200,000.

A second bank account at Community Bank of Texas listed in the name of Larry and Judy Tillery was spotlighted in the document, as well, and federal agent stated he also believed that account, “was used to deposit multiple checks and receive wire transfers from persons who I believe illegally bet with Larry Tillery on sporting events.”

Agents reviewing the bank records also listed three cash deposits made to the Community Bank of Texas account in the amount of $8,000 on July 5, 2016; $8,000 on July 11, 2016, and $7,000 on July 22, 2016. The three cash transactions could be considered “structuring” which was also laid out in the documents obtained by SETINVESTIGATES.COM. In layman’s terms, structuring involves multiple deposits of cash in amounts less than $10,000 in order to avoid having a bank file a currency transaction report (CTR) or a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). At this time, it is not known if Community Bank of Texas filed the proper paperwork and if they didn’t who would have authorized the omission.

It is known that Larry Tillery is friends with multiple members of the board of directors of Community Bank or Texas. A complete list of board members can be located on the bank’s Web site at https://www.communitybankoftx.com/436.htm
“The federal government requires that a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) is filed when a person makes a cash deposit in excess of $10,000,” the document states. “Based on my training and experience, I know that it is common for persons earning illicit cash income to try to avoid detection by law enforcement by structuring their cash deposits in increments less than $10,000 to avoid the filing of a CTR. Between January 24, 2014 and September 29, 2016 approximately one hundred eleven (111) cash deposits were made into the account totaling approximately $814,030. The deposits ranged from $2,000 to $9,000 and averaged $7,333. Several of the deposits appear to be structured cash deposits and were deposited on sequential days. For example, $34,700 in cash was deposited between April 10-16, 2016. The deposits were made in the following five increments; $5,000 was deposited on April 10, $8,000 on April 11, $8,500 on April 12, $4,700 on April 14, and $8,500 on April 15.”

Dozens of phone calls are listed in the federal documents highlighting conversations between Larry Tillery and the individual gamblers, which are only identified by their initials. One of those gamblers, “B.D.” owed Larry Tillery $300,000 and another identified as “A.H.” had placed more than $2.45 million in wagers with Tillery. Another bettor “C.W.” owed Larry Tillery $150,000 from his bets primarily on football.

“On November 7, 2016, Larry Tillery texted C.W. stating his balance owed and asked if Larry Tillery could come by because he had a bad week,” the document states. “On November 11, 2016, law enforcement intercepted a text message conversation where Larry Tillery tells C.W. that ‘you are plus 150 lets pick some winners.’ C.W. then replies ‘I imagine I owe you more than that in interest. Thank you for your patience…’ Larry Tillery then replies stating that he is not charging C.W. interest. Based on my training and experience, I recognize this conversation to mean that C.W. owes Larry Tillery $150,000 for wagers lost and Larry Tillery was encouraging C.W. to pick some winners to offset C.W’s gambling debt.”

Things began to crumble for Larry Tillery and his associates on February 6, 2017, as federal agents began wrapping up the loose ends of their three-year investigation. It was the day after Super Bowl 51 when the Atlanta Falcons imploded in the final half of the game and let the New England Patriots come from a 28-point deficit to win the game. Typically, in the world of sports betting Monday and Tuesday are considered collection days and Wednesday and Thursday are considered payout days, except Larry Tillery was intercepted by the wiretap on his cell phone telling his wife that he was going to Houston to make a payout.

“At 10:48 a.m. on February 6, 2017, law enforcement intercepted a phone call from Larry Tillery to Brian Tillery,” the document states. “In this phone call, Larry Tillery requests that Brian Tillery bring him all the money Brian Tillery had because Larry Tillery had payoffs to make. At 1:02 p.m. on the same day, Larry Tillery called H.Z. and stated that he was going to Houston, TX around 4:30 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. Larry Tillery asked him if an individual was coming to Beaumont and he was thinking about giving ‘it’ to this individual because Larry Tillery was trying to keep from transporting “it” because he doesn’t want to get ‘it’ confiscated. At 2:30 p.m. on the same day, H.Z. called Larry Tillery and asked if he was bringing cash or checks. Larry Tillery replied that he was bringing cash. At 3:49 p.m., Larry Tillery called Judy Tillery and told her he was heading into Houston to conduct a ‘payoff.’ At approximately 4:48 p.m. on February 6, 2017, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop on Larry Tillery while he was driving his 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550. Larry Tillery consented to the search of the vehicle after advising law enforcement that he had approximately $230,000 in the vehicle. Law Enforcement found a canvas bag with $230,100 in currency in the rear floorboard of the vehicle.”

Between November 9, 2016 and December 8, 2016, law enforcement intercepted sixty-nine (69) telephone calls where LARRY TILLERY conducted illegal gambling business from his home telephone at 5 Estates of Montclaire.

Thomas prepared a separate document relating to the allegations against Duplantis and it explains that federal authorities are seeking forfeiture proceedings on the following properties:

• 3370 Briar Court, Beaumont, Texas
• 8375 Homer Drive, Beaumont, Texas
• 8690 Crestview Lane, Beaumont, Texas
• 9410 Landis Drive, Beaumont, Texas
• 7995 Jackson Rd., Beaumont, Texas
• 5850 Falcon Ln., Beaumont, Texas
• 1924 Greenbriar Ave., Orange. Texas

“Based on my training and experience, I believe that the Real Property is subject to forfeiture to the United States pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(a) and 31 U.S.C. $ 5317(c) because it is involved in and/or is traceable to property involved in illegal gambling (18 U.S.C. $$ 1084 and 1955), money laundering (18 U.S.C. $$ 1956 and 1957), racketeering (18 U.S.C. $ 1952), structuring (31 U.S.C. $ 5324) violations,” states the document relating to Duplantis. “Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 981(a)1(A), any property, real or personal, involved in a transaction in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1956 and 1957 or any property traceable to such property is subject to forfeiture.”

According to documents relating to Duplantis, he met and began taking bets from an undercover agent in March 2015 via telephone, mail and over the Internet at a Web site called www.overtime2010.com. (That Web site has since been taken off-line.)

“Evidence obtained during the underlying criminal investigation reflects that R. Duplantis is illegally accepting wagers on college and professional sporting events through offshore Internet websites hosted in the Bahamas, Costa Rica and France,” the second set of documents state. “On or about April 1,2015, the UCA began placing bets with R. Duplantis. From April 1,2015 through February 3,2017, the UCA placed approximately 224 individual bets with R. Duplantis wagering approximately $135,806.00.”

At one point during the investigation of Duplantis, he and the undercover agent agreed to meet at Parkdale Mall so Duplantis could collect for lost wagers. Duplantis was driving a 2009 “dark-colored Audi R8” which records from the Texas Department of Transportation show was purchased for $110,500.

Following the payoff, Duplantis confessed to the undercover agent that he had been a “bookie” for about 20 years and that he had trouble spending all of the money he made. According to the second set of documents, Duplantis used much of his winnings to buy houses that he converted to rental properties around Southeast Texas.

Duplantis said he spends the majority of his time meeting with people in an effort to pay and collect proceeds derived from gambling. The UCA asked R. (Ray) Duplantis if he does anything other than this, meaning if R. Duplantis has any other additional occupations than bookmaking. R. (Ray) Duplantis explained that he purchases rental homes and his wife operates a retail store. R. (Ray) Duplantis told the UCA that he has purchased twelve houses that he uses as rental properties. R. (Ray) Duplantis explained that the ‘number one reason’ he purchases rent houses is to funnel gambling proceeds. R. (Ray) Duplantis admitted to making a lot of money over the years but stated that around ninety percent of the money he makes is in cash. R. (Ray) Duplantis told the UCA it is hard to for him to spend the money he makes because he is paid in cash and it is hard to hide. R. (Ray) Duplantis advised the UCA that Chase Quickpay is an alternate method of payment he utilizes. During this same conversation with the UCA, R. (Ray) Duplantis stated he had paid out $130,000.00 in gambling winnings approximately one month ago. R. Duplantis told the UCA that fifty percent of his clients are out-of-town, requiring him to go to the post office every Wednesday to send out ten to fifteen ‘packages,’ which I believe to mean packages of currency to winning customers. R. (Ray) Duplantis stated he in turn receives approximately six to ten o ‘packages’ per week. R. (Ray) Duplantis told the UCA he has a secure location where he packages up his gambling payouts before putting them in the mail. After the meeting where he collected $1,500.00 from the UCA. law enforcement followed him from the mall parking lot to his residence at 3370 Briar Court.”

Over the course of the next several months, Duplantis received numerous cash payments to cover the losing bets made by the undercover agent. But the undercover agent’s luck would turn around during Super Bowl 50 in 2016 and the document show he overnighted $6,000 in cash to cover bets he would make on the big game.

“On February 12, 2016. the UCA met R. (Ray) Duplantis in the parking lot of another Beaumont strip that houses LUXE Boutique / LUXE Baby, a retail operation that the investigation has confirmed is run by his wife A. (April) Duplantis,” the second set of documents state. “This meeting was arranged so that the UCA could collect the proceeds of his winnings from his Super Bowl bet the week before. Prior to arriving at that location, agents watched R. (Ray) Duplantis leave his residence carrying what appeared to be a white, document sized object or objects and get into the Audi R8 described previously. R. (Ray) Duplantis then drove directly to the strip center parking lot. Once there, he handed the UCA a plain white envelope and a sealed Priority Mail Express envelope. Both envelopes contained U.S. currency, totaling approximately $28,900.00.”

Unlike Larry Tillery, Duplantis used three bank accounts at JP Morgan Chase and one at BBVA Compass rather than Community Bank of Texas. Banking records for the account ending in 0267 were analyzed by federal agents and showed that from January 1, 2013, through September 16, 2017, the cash deposits totaled $147,363 while check and electronic transfers into the account totaled $102,127 and $97,500; respectively.

It is not known whether BBVA or JP Morgan Chase employees filled out the proper reporting forms but the source said part of the ongoing investigation will determine the answers to those questions. Criminal penalties for failing to complete a SAR or CTR can bring monetary fines, a year in federal prison, or both.

Records for the account ending in 1599, which was listed for Luxe Couture DBA Luxe Baby, revealed that over the course of about 16 months, “there were 24 even cash deposits totaling $44,000.” That account and another business account belonging to Luxe Couture DBA Boutique showed combined deposits of $1,312,077.94 and total sales of the company were listed as $866,604. Based on those numbers federal authorities estimate the total deposits exceeded the sales from the businesses by $426,776.60 or 49 percent from January 2013 to September 2016.

“Based on training, experience and knowledge of this investigation, agents recognize the excess bank deposits and frequent even dollar cash deposits into the business bank account as an indicator of laundering cash proceeds of illegal gambling,” the document states. “Based on a review of all known bank accounts, law enforcement has not discovered any source of income, other than proceeds of R. (Ray) Duplantis’ illegal gambling enterprise and/or rent houses, which are themselves derived from the proceeds of R. (Ray) Duplantis illegal gambling enterprise …”

Although there are no criminal records or court cases have been filed publicly in the government database, known at PACER, sources have confirmed to SETINVESTIGATES.COM that the release of criminal charges is imminent and federal authorities are still interviewing witnesses and potential associates related to the two gambling enterprises. It is believed by the source that indictments have already been secured for some, if not all, of the parties involved and that others could later be named as the investigation continues.

EDITOR’S NOTE: SETINVESTIGATES.COM will continue to monitor this story and post updates as they are warranted. It is important to note that these federal documents only indicate allegations of wrongdoing by those listed and, to date, no one has been found guilty of any criminal.

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