Feds: Texas Family Ran One of Biggest Illegal Sports Betting Ops in US, Handling At Least $52 Million in Five Years

Posted on: June 26, 2019, 05:36h. 

Last updated on: June 26, 2019, 09:26h.

Three members of southeast Texas family pleaded guilty in a federal court Tuesday to charges arising from an illegal sports betting operation that the Department of Justice described as one of the biggest in America.

Illegal sports betting
Larry Tillery is believed to have run the multimillion-dollar illegal sports betting operation with his family for over 30 years and would accept bets of up to $100,000 on a single sporting event. (Image: KFDM)

Larry Tillery, his wife, Judy Kay Tillery, and their son Brian Tillery — all of Beaumont — ran the illicit enterprise for 30 years, using the legitimate family business, a used car dealership called Daylight Motors, to launder the proceeds.

Prosecutors believe the Tillerys accepted at least $52 million in bets between 2011 and 2016.

Larry Tillery, 69, and Brian Tillery, 46, pleaded guilty to making monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity and tax evasion. Meanwhile, Judy Tillery, 62, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade tax-reporting requirements.

“The Tillerys ignored state and federal gambling laws and profited tremendously from a criminal enterprise. We intend to collect every bit of the money judgment that will be issued against them and we expect Larry Tillery’s prison sentence to send a message to those who profit from illegal bookmaking,” US Attorney Joseph Brown said in an official statement.

No One’s Perfect

The Tillerys first came to the attention of federal authorities in 2014 when an undercover agent infiltrating a separate illegal bookmaking operation was told that Larry Tillery was the go-to guy for high-stakes betting in Beaumont and would sometimes take bets of up to $100,000 on the outcome of a single sporting event.

A wiretap on Tillery’s phone in February 2017 recorded him discussing settling Super Bowl bets with his clients in a call to his wife and he was arrested.

According to the indictment Tillery used a website to receive and track bets. His wife assisted in laundering the proceeds by depositing cash into her personal bank account and then writing checks to accounts controlled by her husband.

Brian Tillery would collect bets from clients and distribute payouts on behalf of his father, often making wire transfers of illegal gambling money and even sending cash through the post, sometimes in excess of $10,000.

“I’m not a perfect man, made some mistakes. Stay away from the casinos,” Larry Tillery told KFDM-TV of Beaumont.

Earlier this month Tillery was accused of passing a bad check at a casino in Louisiana.

$32 Million Money Judgment

As part of their plea deal, the Tillerys have agreed to a money judgment for more than $32 million and to forfeit $1.7 million in cash seized during the investigation, along with numerous assets, including jewelry, luxury watches, and sports memorabilia items.

Larry Tillery faces up to 10 years in federal prison, while Judy and Brian Tillery face five years each.

“Today is the last step in Mr. Tillery’s efforts to handle his business with the IRS,” said Larry Tillery’s lawyer, Chip Lewis, in an official statement. “The Tillery family sincerely appreciates the overwhelming love and support offered by so many good people across Southeast Texas. I have handled quite a few cases and I have never encountered a more beloved man. Mr. Tillery’s kindness and generosity has benefited countless folks in this community.”