| NEW YORK
NEW YORK A former president and co-founder of
payment processor NETeller pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a
conspiracy charge related to handling billions of dollars in
illegal gambling proceeds.
John Lefebvre, 55, entered the plea before U.S. District
Judge P. Kevin Castel during a hearing in Manhattan, just days
after co-founder Stephen Lawrence also pleaded guilty in the
Lefebvre, a Canadian Citizen who ran NETeller's business
operations, agreed to cooperate with the government as part of
a plea deal. He faces up to five years in jail when he is
sentenced on November 1.
During the hearing, Lefebvre admitted promoting Internet
gambling. Its legality was ambiguous in the United States for
many years, but was effectively banned last October when
President George W. Bush signed legislation outlawing gaming
"I eventually came to see that promoting payment services
to online gambling businesses serving customers in the United
States was wrong," Lefebvre said.
Prosecutors said both Lefebvre and Lawrence provided
payment services to offshore Internet gambling businesses
through NETeller, a Canadian company based in the Isle of Man.
Lefebvre pleaded guilty to a wide-ranging conspiracy charge
that included transmitting interstate and foreign bets,
promoting gambling offences and operating an unlicensed money
transmitting business between 1999 and 2007.
Lefebvre and Lawrence were arrested in January, leading
NETeller to quit the United States, abandoning two-thirds of
Last month, Britain's NETeller said it agreed to a plan for
U.S. customers to access their money for the first time since
the online payment processor's U.S. funds were frozen in
A crackdown on Internet gambling by U.S. authorities began
a year ago with the arrest of BETonSPORTS's then-chief
executive, David Carruthers.
In May, BETonSPORTS pleaded guilty to U.S. racketeering
charges and agreed to help the authorities in cases against
founder Gary Kaplan and other co-defendants, including
The online gambling ban passed last year made it illegal
for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online
gambling sites. At least one U.S. congressman favours a bill
exempting poker and some other games from the ban.