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June 4, 2014

Jeffersonville-based gambling ring case reaches end

One year in halfway house for ring leader, Terry Crofford

NEW ALBANY — A Jeffersonville man convicted of organizing a gambling ring that illegally generated approximately $10 million over the course of 20 years has been sentenced to one year in a halfway house to be followed by a term of probation.

United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett visited New Albany Thursday with several federal agents who investigated the Jeffersonville-based illegal gambling ring to announce the guilty pleas and convictions of Terry Crofford, 62, and seven others involved in the operation.

None of the men received prison sentences.

They are:

• James Baker, 64, who received four years probation and a $4,000 fine.

• George Blair, 55, who received four years probation and a $2,000 fine.

• Jamie Duley, 62, who received four years probation and a $4,000 fine.

• Steven Harkins, 57, who received four years probation a $2,000 fine.

• Jeffrey Hash, 63, who received four years probation and a $1,000 fine.

• Harold Joyce, 46, who received two years probation a $1,000 fine.

• James Payne, 46, who received four years probation and a $2,000 fine.

Crofford is scheduled to begin a four-year probation term at the time he is discharged from a Louisville halfway house.

Hogsett said he supported all the sentencings handed down by Chief Justice Richard Young, although prosecutors had sought a more severe punishment.

“I think it is important to point out, the government argued very vigorously, and, in particular, in Mr. Crofford’s case, a certain period of incarceration was the appropriate sentence,” he said.

Prosecutors had recommended to Young that Crofford be sentenced to two years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

He said Young recognized in his decision that Crofford’s crimes were nonviolent and also took Crofford’s age into account.

“The judge also took notice that Mr. Crofford has no other evidence of criminal history,” Hogsett said. “Now, one might argue, he has been committing a crime for over 20 years, but it is the same crime over, and over, and over, and over again.”

Hogsett called the gambling operations, “a long-time, very lucrative, what I would consider to be a sophisticated illegal gaming and book-making operation, specifically in Jeffersonville ... ”

He went on to say that Crofford’s operation reached into Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and Ohio.

“It was articulated several times in open court today this illegal operation has been ongoing approximately 20 years in area,” Hogsett said, adding Crofford was the “leader of the operation,” which generated $500,000 annually.

“If you do the math, that is $10 million over a 20-year period of time, for which, absolutely no taxes were paid, whatsoever,” he said.  

Crofford was found guilty of two felony charges at the end of the nearly five-year investigation and prosecution.

“This operation had a life cycle of 20 years, and yet no one seemed to do anything about it,” Hogsett said. “It was open. It was obvious. It was notorious. It is simply disingenuous to believe that no one knew what was going on over the course of 20 years.”

He continued, “I think it is fair to say that this kind of activity was widely known, and I think it is fair to say that in large segments of these communities this kind of practice was widely accepted.”

While Hogsett took time during the news conference to stress the blatant nature of Crofford and the men’s activities, he said there is no reason to believe area law enforcement turned their heads to the illegal operation.

“[The operation] took in, on average, 196 wagers a day in amounts ranging from $25 up to multiple $1,000 bets resulting in over $1 million in annual wagers,” Hogsett said. “Terry Crofford took further steps to hide his activities by depositing house winnings in a way to attempt to avoid IRS transactions reporting requirements.”

The investigation began in 2009 and led to a federal grand jury indictments  against all eight men in 2012.

Some of the men were sentenced throughout 2013, and others, including Crofford were sentenced Wednesday.

Hogsett said substantial personal property forfeitures were a significant element of the prosecution.

The prosecution required Crofford forfeit two commercial properties he owned in Utica, personal bank accounts and his business, TC Auto on Market Street in Jeffersonville.

“Crofford was also required to pay or surrender property to the government equal to $120,00 — the value of the equity he had in personal residence,” according to Hogsett.

The property seizure included silver bars and  six vehicles, a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle and a 2004 Lexus.

“For 20 years, Mr. Crofford and his associates played by their own set of rules, and frankly, absent this investigation and prosecution, I would suggest they would still be playing today by their own set of rules,” Hogsett said.

The gambling ring included horse racing and college and professional athletics.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Shepard called the operation “the worst kept secret in town,” during the press conference.

“If you wanted to make a bet you went to EZ Food Mart. You went to TC Auto. You called TC and placed your bet,” Shepard said.

The prosecution was a concerted effort of the FBI, IRS, Indiana Gaming Commission, Jeffersonville Police Department, Scottsburg Police Department, New Albany Police Department and the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department.

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