Feds Seek To Oppose Bingo Swindlers’ Appeal

By Ben Hamill - April 29 2021

Feds Seek To Oppose Bingo Swindlers’ Appeal

A Florida couple found guilty and charged with having duped local charities out of nearly $6 million via an illegal Bingo operation now want a circuit court to overturn an application by federal government that their appeal seeking a reversal of wire fraud charges be denied. While prosecutors are arguing that the couple should have been convicted of wire fraud conspiracy, the couple’s legal counsel now claims that government had not succeeded in actually proving malicious intent on the part of the wrong doers.

Legal counsel for former spouses Larry and Dixie Masino recently tried to convince a three-judge panel in an Atlanta court of appeals that the Masino’s never really meant to purposefully defraud the charities out of Bingo-money. According to their attorney, the charities had still received a portion of the proceeds of the couple’s illegal Bingo operation – despite the fact that their operation had been unlicensed.

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Their Modus Operandi

The Masino’s had for two decades long rented a Bingo hall in Northwest Florida. From there, they ran Bingo games for charities in exchange for a portion of the proceeds – and according to the court reports, a rather large portion at that. The illegal operation had reportedly been in existence for over two decades before the wrong doers were eventually brought to task and convicted of money laundering and unlicensed/illegal gambling in 2018.

According to Florida’s Bingo laws, no non-charitable organisation may ever hold back any profits from the proceeds of Bingo games. Profits may also not be shared by operators and charity sponsors.

Instead of channelling all Bingo proceeds to players in the form of cash or other prizes, as ordered by Florida Bingo laws, the former spouses pocketed literally millions for their own credit.

Charities Never “Lost” Money

David McGee of Beggs & Lane, attorney to the Masino’s, on Tuesday conceded to the allegation that the couple had indeed pocketed millions by making charities to pay overpriced rent and fees for the Bingo sessions hosted by them. He however still insisted that the charities had not actually lost anything in the process – and while having had to bear no risk themselves, still managed to make substantial sum of money off the Masino’s’ activities.

Court documents show that the Masino’s pocketed more than $1 million in illegal Bingo funds every year – all from charging charities fees and diverse expenses. The charities, on the other hand, only managed to make around $80,000 annually from their relationship with the swindling couple. 

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