Las Vegas man indicted in sports betting probe

A Las Vegas-area man tied to the sports betting operation ACME Group Trading has been indicted on charges of violating federal currency transaction laws.

Robert Walker, 43, was charged with four counts of causing a financial institution, the Golden Nugget Race & Sports Book, to fail to file an accurate currency transaction report.

In four separate transactions of more than $10,000, Walker failed to tell sports book operators that he was betting on behalf of ACME Group Trading, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday.

The transactions, which occurred between March 19 and April 3, totaled $72,020, the five-page indictment said.

ACME Group Trading was started in 2005 by gambler-developer Bill Walters. Records on file with the Nevada secretary of state's office show that until October 2010, Walters was president, secretary and treasurer of the company listed as the sole manager of the sports betting operation.

In a Henderson criminal case earlier this year involving the theft of $482,883 from the wagering company, detectives identified Mike Luce, the longtime president of the Walters Group, as "one of the members" of ACME Group Trading.

Las Vegan Ezekiel Rubalcada, 35, a partner in the company, is facing 33 felony theft and burglary counts in that case. He is accused of staging a phony carjacking to cover up a series of thefts from ACME Group's sports betting account at the M Resort. The thefts are alleged to have occurred between Jan. 18 and April 14.

In the federal indictment, Walker is accused of lying about his ties to ACME Group when placing a $32,400 wager at the Golden Nugget on March 19. When asked whether he was gambling on behalf of anyone, he said that he wasn't, causing the casino's sports book to file an inaccurate currency transaction report, the indictment alleges.

Walker knew at the time that he was wagering on behalf of ACME Group, the indictment alleges. Walker also lied about his ties to the sports betting company when placing a $16,620 wager on March 20, collecting a $12,600 bet on March 25 and placing a $10,400 wager on April 3, according to the indictment.

By federal law, all financial institutions, including casinos, must file accurate reports of currency transactions above $10,000. The law is designed to combat money laundering.

In court Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen freed Walker on his own recognizance and set a Feb. 7 trial on the federal charges. Leen also ordered Walker to surrender his passport and confine his travel to Clark County.

Walker's lawyer, Mark Bailus, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. Neither could Walters nor Luce.

IRS Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, is investigating the case.