Costa Rica-based sportsbook 5Dimes had reached a $46.8M settlement with the United States government after a money-laundering investigation.
According to sources who obtained a copy of the settlement agreement with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the East District of Pennsylvania, 5Dimes agrees to pay the U.S. government $15M in cash while also forfeiting more than $30M of assets.
The deal also absolves Laura Verola of any criminal conduct alleged against 5Dimes, stating that she did not have authority of the sportsbook’s operations. Verola is the widow of 5Dimes founder Sean Crighton. She assumed responsibility for 5Dimes’ assets after her husband was kidnapped in 2018. Crighton was later found dead one year later.
Said Maria M. Carillo, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:
“We achieved the objective, which is, she is compliant with U.S. federal law right now. What that means for her is she is not operating in violation of U.S. law, and she is not actively taking bets from U.S. bettors. Whether she’s positioned well for regulators, that’s up for the regulators to decide. 5Dimes certainly is no longer in violation of federal law.”
Pursuing A U.S. License
Likewise, 5Dimes also agreed stop accepting bets from customers in the United States while operating with a Costa Rican license. This part of the settlement explains why 5Dimes announced last month that they would stop taking wagers from U.S. customers starting October 1st.
The non-prosecution agreement also allows 5Dimes to expand to pursue a U.S. license and expand to the legal sportsbetting market in the United States. Per the settlement, Varela has made “significant changes” to 5Dimes’ operations that would make it qualified to participate in lawful gaming operations across the word.
West Virginia native Creighton founded 5Dimes sometime around the year 2000, when legal sportsbetting still did not exist in the United States. It grew to become one of the most popular US sportsbooks that took bets from American customers and eventually caught the attention of federal investigators.
5Dimes used third-party payment processors to accept illegal wagers from U.S. customers. The District Attorney’s Office said that third parties processed the sportsbook’s credit card transactions that concealed the nature of charges. The payment processors then transferred the credit card proceeds to bank accounts of shell companies operated by Creighton.
In 2016, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Attorney’s Office in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security conducted an investigation on 5Dimes for money laundering. In the seizure warrant filed before the U.S. District Court, agents detailed how they believe 5Dimes instructed U.S. sports bettors to use gift cards as a way to place bets. Creighton was never formally charged but the investigation continued for years.
Verola’s attorney’s contacted the East District of Pennsylvania in 2019, and offered her cooperation to resolve the case. According to the settlement, she helped retrieve Creighton assets which were forfeited in favor of the Federal government. These include gold coins, cryptocurrency, funds from the sale of season tickets to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and West Virginia college basketball and football, and a George Mikan rookie basketball card which he purchased for $400,000.