Georgia Gambling Defendants Avoid Prison, But Trio Give Up $661K

Posted on: August 23, 2021, 08:06h. 

Last updated on: August 24, 2021, 09:15h.

Three men must pay over $661,000 in forfeiture and other penalties in connection with a Georgia gambling case. They avoided prison time, but were placed on probation during a sentencing in Augusta, Ga. federal court.

He was sentenced to five years of probation
Southern Georgia Chief US District Judge J. Randal Hall, pictured above. Hall placed a defendant on probation for a gambling charge but forced him to pay penalties. (Image: Augusta Chronicle)

Under the sentence imposed last week by Chief US District Judge J. Randal Hall, Grady Brandon Mobley, 44, of Waynesboro, Ga., has to forfeit $340,084, as well as pay $207,716 to the IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue. He additionally has to pay a fine of $2,000.

He was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to two charges: prohibition of an illegal gambling business and fraud and false statements.

Another defendant, Daniel Cates, 40, also of Waynesboro, was sentenced to three years of probation and must forfeit $100,000, and was fined $4,000. The third defendant, Joel Rees Jones, 59, of Greenwood, S.C., will pay a fine of $10,000 and was given four years’ probation.

Plea Bargain

Jones and Cates each pleaded guilty to the prohibition of illegal gambling business. Another charge against each of the trio, money laundering, was dropped in exchange for their guilty pleas in March.

With his long-running illegal gambling operations, Grady Mobley showed utter disregard for the law and compounded the activity by drawing others into his orbit,” Acting US Attorney David Estes for the Southern District of Georgia said in a statement. “These sentences will hold them all accountable for their actions.”

Mobley allegedly worked as a bookie for an illegal sports betting operation for at least 10 years in Burke County, Estes said. Initially, Mobley collected bets and paid out winnings, Estes added. He later allegedly used a sports betting website based in Costa Rica.

Defendants Used Legitimate Businesses

In 2015, Mobley joined forces with a smaller gambling ring allegedly run operated by Jones. For two years, Mobley cashed checks totaling some $220,000 at his parent’s check-cashing business. It was run out of the Mobley Package Shop in Girard, Ga.

Also, Cates allegedly put about $250,000 in gambling money through his tire store, Cates Firestone. In addition, Mobley allegedly filed false tax returns.

Mobley’s greed continued to grow over the years as he operated his illegal gambling operation, eventually recruiting other individuals to take part,” Chris Hacker, an Atlanta-based FBI Special Agent. “Their greed eventually caught up with them, and now they will suffer the consequences.”

Earlier this year, bills were proposed in Georgia to eventually allow legal online sports betting. The state was also weighing bills to eventually permit legal commercial casinos and horse tracks. They failed to get enacted.

When the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes in January 2022, pro-gaming and sports betting advocates will try to convince Republican lawmakers to pass measures to allow gambling other than the lottery in the state.