Feds: Texas family ran $33M illegal sports gambling outfit

Members of a southeast Texas family admitted in federal court Tuesday that they ran an illegal bookmaking operation out of the father's used car dealership for more than three decades

BEAUMONT, Texas -- Members of a southeast Texas family acknowledged in federal court Tuesday that they ran illegal bookmaking from the father's used car dealership for more than three decades, an enterprise federal authorities described as one of the nation's biggest illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations.

Larry Earnest Tillery, his wife Judy Kay Tillery and their son Brian Tillery pleaded guilty in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to charges arising from their illicit sports betting operation. Larry Tillery, 69, and Brian Tilery, 46, pleaded guilty to making monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity and tax evasion. Judy Tillery, 62, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions to evade tax reporting requirements

Federal prosecutors say the Beaumont family's operation handled almost $33 million from 2010 through 2016, with Judy Tillery helping her husband launder the cash proceeds of the activity and Brian Tillery helping to collect from and pay the bettors.

"For more than 30 years, this family operated one of the largest illegal sports gambling and money laundering operations in the U.S." said Mary Magness, assistant special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Houston office in a statement.

Larry Tillery faces up to 10 years in federal prison, while Judy and Brian Tillery face five years each in prison. No sentencing date has been scheduled.

"I'm not a perfect man, made some mistakes. Stay away from the casinos," Larry Tillery told KFDM-TV of Beaumont .

Tillery's attorney, Chip Lewis, said in a statement to KFDM that the family appreciates support offered by people across southeast Texas. "Today is the last step in Mr. Tillery's efforts to handle his business with the IRS."

As part of their plea agreements with prosecutors, Larry and Judy Tillery have agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in cash seized during the investigation, numerous pieces of jewelry and luxury watches and several sports memorabilia items. They also have agreed to a money judgment for the more-than-$32 million they collected in their operation.

"The Tillerys ignored state and federal gambling laws and profited tremendously from a criminal enterprise. We intend to collect every bit of the money judgment that will be issued against them and we expect Larry Tillery's prison sentence to send a message to those who profit from illegal bookmaking," said U.S. Attorney Joseph Brown.