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UK Online Gambling Exec Changes Plea in U.S.

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One of the first casualties of the U.S. government’s crackdown on online
gambling, British online gambling executive, David Carruthers, has spent
almost three years under house arrest in St Louis, Missouri, but that is set too
change after recently withdrawing his guilty plea ahead of his sentencing.

The 52-year-old Scotsman who was the CEO and a board member of online sports
betting operation, Betonsports Plc, was arrested by U.S. officials in
July 2006 in Dallas, Texas, whilst in transit to his home in Costa Rica. He was
detained on racketeering charges related to accepting wagers from U.S. citizens.

From then until now for the most part, Carruthers has been holed up in a hotel
in St Louis under electronic surveillance, awaiting sentencing which is
scheduled for tomorrow (Friday, October 2). However, the online gambling
executive made headlines this week when he changed his guilty plea to a not
guilty plea.

According to news reports, just days before a U.S. judge was set to decide the
fate of Carruthers in a formal hearing, the former CEO’s plea deal ‘broke down’.
In April of this year, he reportedly agreed to plead guilty as part of a deal
with U.S. prosecutors in return for a recommended prison sentence of 33 months.

As a result of his sudden ‘about face’, late on Tuesday afternoon a motion to
set aside defendant David Carruthers’ guilty plea was granted, and a change of
plea hearing was set for October 14. While there has been much speculation as to
Carruthers’ change of heart, up to now his reasons have remain undisclosed.

On Tuesday, nobody involved in the Betonsports case was prepared to comment on
the change of plea, including his lawyer Scott Rosenblum, nor anyone from U.S.
attorney’s office. The other Betonsports executives involved in the case –
including company founder, Gary Kaplan – are still on track to plead guilty.

The arrest and detention of David Carruthers and his co-accused has drawn wide
criticism from supporters of online gambling in the United States. Democratic
congressman Barney Frank, for instance, has described the executive’s airport
arrest as ‘one of the most Stalinist things I’ve ever seen my government do’.

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