Former fugitive sports gambling operator
pleads guilty in U.S. court
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[January 15, 2016]
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An American operator
of an Antigua-based online sport betting enterprise, who spent over 13
years as a fugitive from U.S. justice while continuing to run the
business, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on Thursday in New York.
Haden Ware, who worked at World Sports Exchange even after its
owner was convicted at trial in 2000 and after his own indictment in
2002, entered his plea in federal court in Manhattan.
It came a day after Ware voluntarily turned himself in to U.S.
authorities after flying in from Antigua on Wednesday night. James
Henderson, his lawyer, told reporters his client "came back to
"Who wants to be an international fugitive when you're a U.S.
citizen?" Henderson said.
Under a plea agreement, Ware, 40 agreed not to appeal any sentence
of 12 months or less.
He was released on $150,000 bond and allowed to leave New York to
travel to California and Massachusetts to see his parents, who
Henderson said he had not seen in 20 years.
In the 1990s Ware, like former owners Jay Cohen and Steve
Schillinger, left his job at the Pacific Stock Exchange in San
Francisco and moved to Antigua to start the World Sports Exchange.
The company was a considered a pioneer of Internet gaming that took
in hundreds of millions of bets annually.
But in 1998, the U.S. Justice Department brought charges against 22
people including Cohen for their alleged involvement in operating
offshore sports books that took bets from American online and over
Cohen in 2000 became the first of the defendants to be convicted at
trial on charges that he violated the federal Wire Wager Act. He was
sentenced to 21 months in prison.
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Ware, a Boston native, was not charged initially, but was indicted
with others at World Exchange in 2002. Rather than face the charges,
he and Schillinger remained in Antigua and continued to run World
In 2006, Ware told ESPN it was "tough" not being able to return the
country he was born in, to see his family and friends.
"It's not fun to have any country, whether it's the most powerful
country in the world or any country, deem you to be a criminal," he
In 2013, World Sports Exchange ceased operations, citing inadequate
capital resources. Schillinger died days later, the victim of what
Antiguan media described at the time as an apparent act of suicide.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)
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