Betting ring leader sentenced to 87 months Silver Spring man used profits to buy mansion

March 25, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A Silver Spring man has been sentenced to 87 months in prison for leading a thriving sports betting ring that once took in $355,000 in a single week of wagering, making it one of the biggest gambling schemes in Maryland history.

John David Michael, who used the profits from the bookmaking operation to pay for a mansion and other lavish expenditures, ran the ring during the 1992-1995 football and basketball seasons, federal prosecutors said. He was convicted of gambling, tax and money-laundering offenses.

Michael's sentencing Monday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt capped a lengthy investigation that saw FBI technicians piece together betting slips that the ring had tried to destroy in a paper shredder. The paper reconstruction has been used by the FBI in gambling investigations in Chicago and New York.

"It's a tedious process but there are ways our laboratory people can do it, based on certain patterns they find," said David R. Knowlton, the FBI's agent in charge of the Maryland field office. "Shredded paper can be reconstructed and deciphered."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Wilkinson said more than 200 Marylanders placed bets through the ring, usually wagering well over $1,000 a bet. Michael's wife, Sylvia Michael, was also convicted in the scheme. Her sentencing is Friday.

The Michaels used the proceeds to finance high living, according to court papers. The couple outfitted their home with marble fixtures, a large bar, and poker and pool tables, prosecutors said. Sylvia Michael once spent about $10,000 in a weeklong shopping spree, prosecutors said.

Wilkinson said $100,000 was seized from safe deposit boxes and a safe in the Michaels' home. That money will be applied toward $315,980 that Judge Alexander Williams ordered John Michael to forfeit to the government.

Prosecutors said John Michael laundered the gambling money through John Michael Auto Sales, his Burtonsville auto dealership.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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