Spa City man pleads guilty to conspiracy in off-shore gambling scheme

A Saratoga Springs man pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the fifth in an off-shore gambling conspiracy scheme and agreed to forfeit $25,000 in cash and an SUV on Tuesday, Feb. 8, according to Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy.

Michael J. Morrissey, 47, of 8 Doggett's Coat Place, who pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge on Feb. 8, had been charged with money laundering in the fourth degree, a felony, and conspiracy in the fifth degree.

The plea stems from an \involved and long-term gambling investigation conducted by the Special Investigations Unit of the New York State Police, according to information from Murphy's office. SIU first focused on Morrissey after obtaining a wiretap warrant in 2008 when his name surfaced and he became intertwined in a related gambling investigation out of Schenectady County, said Murphy.

In addition to the guilty plea, Morrissey forfeited $25,000 in illegal gambling proceeds in cash that will be distributed according to state forfeiture laws, with one third going to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the remaining to various law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.

Morrissey was part of a larger gambling operation involving an off-shore betting scheme in which sports bettors would wager on professional football and baseball games by calling an international phone number and receiving an account and pin number from Morrissey, who acted as an "agent" to the off-shore enterprise, said Murphy. Customers would then use those access numbers to place bets via an "online" gambling website and Morrissey was paid a cut of the money he collected from losing wagers, while the remainder was sent to the off-shore enterprise, said Murphy.

The SUV Morrissey forfeited was his personal 2005 Buick Rendezvous that he used to further his crime.

Morrissey's original charge, money laundering in the fourth degree, was based on allegations that in January 2009 he knowingly possessed three certified bank checks from banks with international branches in Florida, according to information from Murphy's office, and Florida authorities are continuing their portion of that investigation.

A Schenectady man, Peter Rufer, was a lower level bookmaker in the gambling scheme and was charged with promoting gambling in 2009, according to information from Murphy's office.

Murphy said the State Police investigation remains ongoing and active in Saratoga, Warren, Schenectady, Albany and Montgomery counties by federal, state and local law enforcement officials who are collaborating in the multi-state investigation that spans to Las Vegas, Florida and Costa Rica.

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