International sports gambling operation traced to Chehalis

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 7:05 pm
2015.0612.lawandorder.final

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By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The U.S. State Department helped local prosecutors track down a man wanted for allegedly running an illegal online betting website out of an office in downtown Chehalis.

When investigators were looking into the enterprise in the late summer of 2008, they learned that Ronald W. Ehli had moved to Costa Rica four months earlier, but they interviewed two of his employees at 34 N.E. Boistfort Street, according to court documents.

They learned he was using a bank in Minnesota, another bank in Chehalis and used website server services from a Centralia business, the documents relate.

“It’s an interesting deal,” Lewis County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher said today. “There was a lot of money involved and we seized every nickel of it.”

Charges were filed in Lewis County Superior Court in the fall of 2008 but Ehli has just recently been taken into custody.

Meagher said the state department revoked Ehli’s passport and when he tried to travel to Nicaragua, where his wife lives, he was located. Ehli was brought to Florida and Meagher had him extradited from the Dade County Sheriff’s Office.

He was booked into the Lewis County Jail yesterday and brought before a judge this afternoon.

Judge Andrew Toynbee allowed him release pending trial on a $10,000 unsecured bond, defense attorney Kevin Nelson said.

Ehli, 58, is charged with second-degree professional gambling and also with unlawfully transmitting or receiving gambling information. Both are offenses with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

He has no known criminal history, according to Meagher.

Charging documents detail how a special agent at the Washington State Gambling Commission decided to look into Sportbetting.com to see if it had any illegal gambling activities in the state.

The agent, using an undercover name and an undercover Visa account, signed up, made bets and won several times, according to the documents.

Sportbetting.com is an Internet website that allows wagering on sports competitions, horse racing, casino games and poker. Its activities are not sanctioned by the Washington State Gambling Commission.

The documents go on to make the following allegations:

The agent received a payout for his winnings with a check drawn on Citizens State Bank in Clara City, Minnesota. It was signed by Ehli and the account belonged to EZPay Financial Services.

That business is a Washington state corporation registered to Ehli, who is listed as president, secretary and treasurer.

The two employees at the Boistfort Street office admitted to checking the email for updates and transferring money to Ehli’s account at West Coast Bank in Chehalis, then printing checks. There were four batches: for Canada, Mexico, International and United States. The computer was seized.

The computer’s server was located at Rainier Connect on Kresky Avenue in Centralia.

Ehli also owns a business called Outsource Printing, based in the same office on Boistfort Street.

Search warrants were served for electronic data from EZPay, West Coast Bank and Citizens State Bank.

It’s not clear if the two employees have been charged with any crimes.

Meagher said that the forfeiture of the business’s accounts was done by the Washington State Gambling Commission and amounted to almost $5 million.

The prosecutor’s office and the sheriff’s office applied to receive a portion of the money, to be used to investigate fraud, he said.

Nelson was appointed to represent Ehli. His arraignment is scheduled for Thursday of next week.

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One Response to “International sports gambling operation traced to Chehalis”

  1. john obremski says:

    Good they catch the bad guy . These two words , Nicaragua and Florida, seem to be places many bad stuff seems to happen ? or come from ?

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