PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Striking a blow against illegal gambling operators who profit behind a facade of good causes, U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida today announced that the owners/operators of Racetrack Bingo in Fort Walton Beach have been ordered to forfeit $5,813,584 to the United States. In February 2018, a federal jury convicted Larry L. Masino, 68, of Gulf Breeze, and Dixie L. Masino, 66, of Pensacola, of operating an illegal gambling business and money laundering charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia H. Forbes prosecuted the Masinos after a joint investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
U.S. Attorney Keefe issued this statement: “The investigation and prosecution of financial crimes joins the criminal and civil enforcement resources of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement. This multimillion-dollar forfeiture order delivers a powerful message to law breakers who would try to reap millions destined for legitimate charitable organizations. Thanks to the outstanding work of AUSA Forbes and her investigative team, these criminals will pay for their misdeeds.”
FDLE Pensacola Special Agent in Charge Jack Massey offered additional perspective.
“I appreciate the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, our agents, and law enforcement partners ensuring our local charities have the resources they earned to address the needs of our community,” he said.
Rather than returning all proceeds from bingo games to players in the form of prizes, as required by law, the Masinos concocted a scheme in which charities sponsored games and paid Racetrack Bingo extremely high “lease” payments to conduct the games at its location. Although Racetrack Bingo made it appear that the charities were conducting the games themselves, the Masinos were actually illegally conducting bingo and keeping a substantial amount of the bingo proceeds for themselves. Over $20 million was brought in from the illegal bingo games conducted at Racetrack Bingo, of which $5,813,584 was personally retained by the Masinos and their children as illegal profit.
The forfeiture order requires the Masinos to turn over substantial sums of cash, as well as three properties purchased with monies they received through the Racetrack Bingo operation. The forfeiture order will be incorporated into the final judgment when the Masinos are sentenced. A sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for March 25, 2019, at 1:00 p.m.