Authorities Seized Over $1 Million in Laundered Gambling Proceeds, the Largest Seizure in the History of the Money Laundering Statute
SALEM – The owners of a North Andover company have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with operating an illegal gaming and money laundering scheme, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
William Morley, age 62, and his wife Bonnie Morley, age 53, both of Middleton, pleaded guilty today in Essex Superior Court to the charges of Keeping a Place for Registering Bets (one count), Organizing and Promoting Gambling (one count), Unlawful Operation of a Gaming Device (one count), Money Laundering (one count) and Conspiracy (three counts).
Following the plea, Judge Kenneth Salinger sentenced William Morley to two-and-a-half years in the House of Correction, with six months to serve and the balance suspended for three years. Bonnie Morley was sentenced to three years of probation. Their corporation, Four Star Vending, will be dissolved as part of the guilty plea. The Morleys and Four Star were also ordered to forfeit more than $1 million in laundered illegal gambling proceeds.
The Morleys used Four Star Vending to distribute illegal gambling devices – which can be described as video slot and poker machines played for cash payouts – to bars, social clubs and other such establishments throughout Massachusetts and New York. According to authorities, employees of Four Star regularly traveled to these establishments to collect the proceeds from the slot machines and shared the profits from the gaming machines with the owners of the establishments that housed the machines.
“These defendants used their business as a way to evade our state gaming laws and rip off over a million dollars from customers – including some who were elderly and veterans – at bars and other establishments across our state,” AG Healey said.
“We thank our partners in law enforcement for working with us in going after those who facilitate these illegal schemes.”
The charges stem from a joint investigation by Massachusetts State Police troopers assigned to AG Healey’s Office and the Massachusetts State Lottery, as well as the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.
“As a result of this collaborative effort, a very profitable, and rigged, enterprise that exploited the most vulnerable members of the Commonwealth has been dismantled,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “In effect, these machines picked the pocket of countless unsuspecting patrons, including veterans, immigrants, and the elderly. Along with our law enforcement partners, we will hold these defendants and any others who engage in this type of activity.”
“Today’s announcement is an affirmation that conducting illegal gambling activity in the Commonwealth is a serious offense with significant consequences,” Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg said.
“I applaud the Attorney General’s Office, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, and the Massachusetts State Police for their work. This will protect state revenues generated by legitimate, regulated games like those offered by the Massachusetts State Lottery.”
“Full credit goes to the women and men of the Massachusetts State Police, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office for their focused efforts to address predatory gambling,” Massachusetts State Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney said. “The Massachusetts State Lottery is proud to have provided assistance in this effort to curtail illegal gambling and to protect consumers across Massachusetts.”
Four Star was also supplying and servicing ATMs, jukeboxes, vending machines, and other amusement devices to its customers. The company used this part of its business as a means for laundering the illegal gaming proceeds.
Authorities uncovered considerable evidence of the company’s illegal gaming and money laundering operation including 200 gaming machines, approximately $1.4 million in illegal proceeds and 11 vehicles used to facilitate the criminal activity. The amount of funds seized represents the largest seizure in the history of the state’s money laundering statute.
The Morleys were initially charged in May.
In addition to the Morleys, Four Star Vending employee Richard Calhoun, age 50, of Peabody, and Anthony Mazzola, age 56, of Newton, a manager at one of the social clubs operating Four Star gaming machines, were also charged as part of the investigation into Four Star Vending.
Calhoun and Mazzola were indicted by a Statewide Grand Jury in March on the charges of Keeping a Place for Registering Bets (one count), Unlawful Operation of a Gaming Device (one count), and Conspiracy (two counts).
The cases against Calhoun and Mazzola are ongoing. The charges against them are allegations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Gina Masotta and Thomas Caldwell of AG Healey’s Gaming Enforcement Division along with Special Assistant Attorney General Phil Mallard of the Essex County District Attorney’s Office and with assistance from Essex County Assistant District Attorney Frank MacDonald. The investigation was conducted by troopers and civilian investigators assigned to the Massachusetts State Police Gaming Enforcement Division, the Massachusetts State Lottery, Special Service Section, Essex County District Attorney’s Office, Gang Unit and Technical Surveillance Unit, Financial Investigator Krista Roche and other investigators assigned to AG Healey’s Gaming Enforcement Division, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission of the Massachusetts Treasurer’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Lab. The investigation received support and assistance from the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.