Two Las Vegas Men Indicted for Alleged Multimillion-Dollar Sports Betting Scheme

Posted on: November 4, 2020, 12:09h. 

Last updated on: November 4, 2020, 10:08h.

Two men in Las Vegas have been indicted on federal charges in Nevada for allegedly running a multimillion-dollar sports betting scheme and defrauding more than 600 investors.

Las Vegas sports betting crime
Seen here in a 2009 photograph, John F. Thomas III is facing more charges in relation to his alleged running of an illegal sports betting investment network in and around Las Vegas. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

A federal grand jury returned a 14-count indictment against John Frank Thomas III, 75, and Thomas Joseph Becker, 72, both of Las Vegas. Each is facing a count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 13 counts of wire fraud.

US Attorney Nicholas Trutanich of the District of Nevada alleges that the two men advertised their supposed sports betting expertise to potential investors and promised large returns. Thomas and Becker marketed the following entities: Sports Psychometrics, Vegas Basketball Club, Vegas Football Club, Einstein Sports Advisory, Quantum Sports Advisory, Wellington Sports Club, and Welscorp, Inc.

According to the DOJ, Thomas and Becker touted their “special insights” and strategies to generate, on average, a net return of between $40-80 per $100 wagered through their investment vehicles. Instead, the feds allege, the two were simply operating a Ponzi scheme.

Trutanich’s office says the alleged sports betting operation ran between September 2010 through August of 2019. Thomas and Becker were released last week on their own recognizance. They are due in Las Vegas District Court on January 4, 2021.

SEC Ignites Investigation

If the story sounds familiar, it’s because first covered Thomas and Becker’s alleged wrongdoings in June.

Both men are facing a civil suit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for posing as licensed investment brokers, and allegedly swindling $13.9 million worth of investor money to fund their own personal and business expenses. The SEC asserts that another $13.2 million was spent paying agents who brought in new investors.

The SEC and DOJ say little of the investors’ money was actually used to gamble on sports.

According to the DOJ, the statutory penalty per count for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud is 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of either $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense.

Criminal Past

Thomas and Becker are no strangers to the US court system. The two Las Vegas men pleaded guilty in 1990 to running a $30 million scheme that involved buying and leasing copiers and printers to educational institutions. Becker was handed a seven-year prison term and Thomas 10 years behind bars.

In the ongoing SEC case, Thomas and Becker were seeking $12,345 and $7,361, respectively, in monthly living expenses from their frozen assets. The SEC objected.

“Investor funds should not be used to support Thomas and Becker’s extravagance while their defrauded investors may be struggling to pay their bills,” the SEC said in a court filing.

A judge later approved $5,000 each in monthly allocations, as their case continues to be delayed by COVID-19.