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Trial of Horse-Betting Company in North Dakota Begins

18 January 2005

Las Vegas Sun

FARGO, North Dakota -- The high-rolling gamblers have left town, but prosecutors say the stakes remain high in the federal trial that begins today of a man and woman accused of handling $99 million in illegal wagers.

Prosecutors say Susan Bala and Raymundo Diaz Jr. set up an unlicensed parlor for off-track horse betting in Fargo and created an organization called "Brixcorp" to disguise the business and avoid paying taxes or fees.

Each faces 12 charges, including money laundering and conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business. Nine of the counts carry a maximum penalty of 20 years. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Bala founded the now-defunct Racing Services Inc., and Diaz served as a vice president. The company was licensed to provide broadcast signals from out-of-state horse races, such as the Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby, to betting parlors in the state.

But it was not licensed to run its own betting parlor, authorities said. Only charities and other nonprofit organizations may run such establishments in North Dakota.

According to the federal indictment, $99 million was wagered at the defendants' unlicensed betting site between Oct. 1, 2002, and April 28, 2003, resulting in $19.7 million in revenue.

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