Woman gets 27 months for N.D.s largest gambling fraud - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

The founder and former president of North Dakotas first simulcast racing service was sentenced Thursday to more than two years in prison for running what prosecutors said was the largest illegal gambling operation in state history.

Susan Bala was given a 27-month sentence by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, to be followed by two years of probation. Erickson said Bala had no previous criminal history, but he scolded her for committing a serious crime.

Bala and her company, Racing Services Inc., were convicted in February on 12 counts, including conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, illegal wire transfer and nine counts of money laundering.

Racing Services was the first company licensed to provide broadcast signals from out-of-state horse races to betting parlors, but authorities said it was not licensed to run its own betting parlor.

Jurors in February ordered Racing Services to forfeit about $99 million, the amount authorities said was wagered at the unlicensed site. Bala herself was ordered to pay $19.7 million of that.

Bala, who appeared calm throughout her sentencing hearing, said she did not intentionally commit a crime and that she would have been "insane or very foolish" to try.

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