Waynesboro men admit participation in illegal gambling operation

A closeup of the new 100 dollar bill picturing Benjamin Franklin.  It's all about the...
A closeup of the new 100 dollar bill picturing Benjamin Franklin. It's all about the Benjamins. Shallow depth of field.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 10:28 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Two Waynesboro men and a Greenwood, S.C., man have admitted to federal charges for participating in a longtime illegal gambling operation.

Grady Brandon Mobley, 44, and Daniel Cates, 50, both of Waynesboro, and Joel Rees, 59, of Greenwood, S.C, entered guilty pleas charging each of them with Prohibition of an Illegal Gambling Business, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Mobley also pled guilty to fraud and false statements.

Guilty pleas include prison time and $650,000 in forfeiture and restitution.

In accordance with the plea agreement, Mobley faces a negotiated sentence of 12 months plus one day in federal prison, and has forfeited $340,084. He also agrees to pay $207,716 in restitution to the IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue, and a fine of $2,000. Cates agreed to the forfeiture of $100,000.

As described in court documents and testimony, Mobley operated as a “bookie” for an illegal sports betting operation for at least the past 10 years in Burke County, at first collecting bets and paying out winnings himself, and later through a sports betting website operated from Costa Rica.

In 2015, Mobley merged his operation and began splitting his profits with a smaller gambling ring operated by Jones. From 2015 to 2017, Mobley cashed bettor’s checks totaling approximately $220,000 at his parent’s check cashing business which operated out of the Mobley Package Shop in Girard, Ga. To help conceal the growing amount of cash involved in the transactions, Mobley enlisted the assistance of Cates, who admitted that he funneled approximately $250,000 in gambling proceeds through his Waynesboro tire store, Cates Firestone, in return for money and favors from Mobley.

During this period, Mobley admitted filing false information on his income tax returns to conceal the amount of proceeds from the illegal gambling operation.

After plea hearings before U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall, each of the three men were released on bond pending sentencing and formal acceptance of the plea agreement at a later date.

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