Chicago-Area Bookie Sentenced To One Year In Federal Prison

A bookie located just north of Chicago will spend time behind bars.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced that Domenic Poeta, a 63-year-old from Highland Park, Ill., was sentenced to a year in federal prison for operating an illegal sports bookmaking business and filing false income tax returns.

The government said that from 2012 to 2017, Poeta obtained more than $3.7 million from the operation of his bookmaking business. Poeta failed to report his receipt of this income in the federal and state tax returns that he filed for each of those years, resulting in a federal and state tax deficit of approximately $1,486,363. Poeta must repay that sum as part of the plea agreement.

Poeta pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of transmission of wagering information and one count of filing a false tax return. U.S. District Judge Matt Kennelly imposed the sentence in federal court in Chicago.

In May 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1992 federal law that had banned states other than Nevada from legalizing and regulating single-game sports wagering.

Illinois legalized sports betting in 2019, and from March to September of this year the state saw its legal operators handle $506,671,979, winning $18,093,086 from bettors. The state of Illinois collected $2,713,963 in taxes off that industry revenue.

‘An undercount by a pretty significant amount’

Poeta, who unsuccessfully sought probation or home confinement instead of prison, had a much larger sports betting operation than what he was charged for, according to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times.

The deli store owner reportedly was accused of illegal bookmaking by authorities as far back as 2007. Additionally, Poeta was charged for taxes owed on money won from just seven known gamblers.

“The size of his operation and the amount of cash he obtained was greater than that for which he was charged,” the prosecutor wrote in a memo.

“The amount involved here is pretty breathtaking, quite honestly,” Judge Kennelly said during the court hearing held by videoconference. “And it’s quite likely an undercount by a pretty significant amount.”