The Plano, TX police department made a major sports betting bust

In 2001, the Plano Police Department received a note that alerted them to “a significant gambling operation.” Twelve years later, that note turned into one of the largest bookmaking busts in American history.

$5 Billion International Gambling Ring

The Plano Police Department announced this week that a total of 18 men have been arrested in a bust of a North Texas-based sports betting ring. All told, the group collected more than $5 billion in wagers over a four-year period – making the bust “by far the largest bookmaking case in our district’s history,” according to U.S. Attorney John Bales.

All of the men who were arrested were involved with running the operation. No bettors were charged with any crimes. The men arrested ranged between the ages of 36 and 78.

The ringleader of the group, Albert S. Reed Jr., was the only man sentenced to time in prison, as he’ll receive a year and one day in federal prison. All other individuals who have already been sentenced have been given probation and other moderate punishments, including some who will face months of home detention. Some members of the ring are still awaiting sentencing, but are not likely to receive prison time.

Show Me the Money

But while the jail time was minimal, the ring faced much harsher financial penalties. A total of more than $4 million in cash was forfeited by various members of the organization. In addition, over $6 million worth of property was confiscated, including items from luxury condominiums, signed memorabilia from a variety of different athletes, and gold.

The big winner here may well be the Plano Police Department themselves. It is estimated that the department will receive a windfall of about $4.8 million from the proceeds of auctioning off the seized items. And while that money can’t legally be used as a part of the operating budget, the department will likely end up spending it on new equipment and facilities.

The bust was the result of more than a decade of undercover work. After the Plano Police Department received the 2001 note, they assigned Detective Curtis Coburn to investigate the ring. In the beginning, Coburn – working undercover – made just a few small bets with a single bookie. But over time, he started to increase the size of his bets in an effort to gain the trust of those operating the sports betting ring.

Coburn worked on the case for years, giving it attention in between time on other cases. Over the years, Coburn made about 300 bets on a variety of sports, and began getting a picture of just how big the organization was: it stretched beyond state lines, and even had an international presence.

That’s why in 2006, Plano police reached out to federal authorities to help them investigate further. By 2011, the combined investigation had gathered mountains of information – more than enough to convict the leaders of crimes ranging from operating an illegal gambling business to tax violations.

Detective Coburn’s work was integral to the bust, but the dissolution of the sports betting ring did cost him some money. When search warrants went out in 2011, Coburn still had one outstanding bet on the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series at 50-1 odds. But by the time the Cardinals won the World Series later that year, the group no longer existed – meaning his undercover long shot bet would never be paid.