At approximately 6:00 am, Wednesday morning, the Nevada State Gaming Control Board’s Enforcement Division, working with the New York Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, participated in the service of search warrants and the arrest of multiple individuals in connection with a major national bookmaking investigation.
Approximately 30 Agents of the Gaming Control Board (GCB), with officers and agents from the NYPD and the FBI, participated in the early morning service of several search and arrest warrants at locations across the Las Vegas Valley. In addition, numerous betting accounts and deposit boxes were also searched in conjunction with the case. A total of 8 arrests were made in Las Vegas on New York warrants charging the suspects with over 110 counts related to illegal bookmaking activity associated with an Operation dubbed “World Wide Wagers” by the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau.
Earlier this month, the District Attorney’s Office in Queens County, New York presented their case to the Grand Jury which returned a 259 page indictment charging 25 individuals with 225 counts of violations of the New York Penal Code, including Enterprise Corruption, Money Laundering, Promoting Gambling and Conspiracy.
The GCB’s Enforcement Division has been working with the NYPD on this case for the past 15 months. In their investigation, which began in 2011, the NYPD discovered a large scale bookmaking operation, with ties to traditional organized crime, operating in several states as well as at off shore locations. They also determined that there was a significant Las Vegas connection and, having worked together on several previous bookmaking cases, contacted the GCB for assistance. The Enforcement Division’s Special Investigation Section’s primary responsibility in the investigation was to conduct surveillance on known suspects, identify unknown subjects, observe money drops and exchanges, and identify accounts and safe deposit boxes being utilized by the suspects.
Those individuals indicted and living in the Las Vegas area include: Brandt England age 49 of Las Vegas, Paul Sexton age 29 of Henderson, Jerald M. Branca age 67 of Las Vegas, Joseph Paulk age 35 of Las Vegas, Michael Colbert age 32 of Las Vegas, Steven Diano age 48 of Las Vegas, Ian W. Mandel age 43 of Las Vegas, and Kelly Barsel age 42 of Las Vegas. Charges in the indictment include: Enterprise Corruption, Promoting Gambling, Money Laundering and Conspiracy.
Seven homes were searched yesterday and numerous wagering accounts and safe deposit boxes were either searched or frozen. Thus far over $2.8 million in cash and chips has been seized or secured in Las Vegas.
Based on the information, which has been and is still being obtained, the Gaming Control Board is continuing its investigation into potential statutory and regulatory violations in Nevada.
Mike Colbert Of Cantor Gaming Arrested
The Las Vegas sports betting industry was rocked today by the arrest of Mike Colbert, sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming. Colbert and the other arrests were part of the ongoing investigation of offshore sports betting.
Colbert has been the public face of Cantor Gaming since the company arrived to Las Vegas more than three years ago. He served as the sports book director at the M Resort, Cantor’s first property, from the day it opened in March 2009.
The M sports book found immediate, unprecedented success under Colbert’s watch. By offering the highest limits in town and an expanded betting menu that included Las Vegas’ first-ever in-running wagering, it became ground zero for the biggest bettors in Las Vegas.
Cantor grew from there and currently operates sports books at six other casinos — the Venetian, Palazzo, Palms, Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock and Tropicana. Colbert stayed in charged of posting and adjusting the betting lines for all of Cantor’s empire.
Local and national media have featured Colbert’s analysis on games and the betting market regularly for the last three years.
The men reportedly served as agents for Pinnacle Sports, by most accounts the largest legal book making operation in the world. Agents have and are used by many offshore books, dealing with paying and collecting money which allows books to circumvent the United States’ draconian restrictions against financial transactions.
This type of arrest is relatively common–what makes it newsworthy in this case is Colbert’s involvement. Cantor is the most influential bookmaker in Nevada and Colbert was among the best known and powerful men in the sports betting industry. In addition to running afoul of Nevada gaming laws ‘moonlighting’ as a sports book agent in his position certainly isn’t an especially bright idea. Most Nevada gaming experts suggest Colbert’s high profile job with Cantor Gaming and now alleged ties to organized crime, will give this story legs. This is not the kind of publicity the state of Nevada seeks during these hard times.