An Oklahoma software company owner who is facing illegal gambling charges made more than $500,000 in political donations in Florida and North Carolina, records show.
Chase Egan Burns, 37, of Fort Cobb, is facing dozens of felony counts in Florida for supplying software to 49 Internet cafes there. Authorities allege the cafes actually were illegal gambling centers.
Burns donated almost $170,000 in North Carolina and more than $340,000 in Florida in the past two years, records show.
He donated $6,100 in 2010 to a Georgia politician running for governor and $2,500 in 2011 to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's failed bid for president, records show.
An acquaintance said Burns once told him, “I have a lot of palms to grease.”
The acquaintance, Steven R. Mindemann, is in an Oklahoma prison for trying to extort money from Burns at gunpoint in 2011.
Federal and state agents on Tuesday raided Burns' company, International Internet Technologies (IIT) in Anadarko. Burns was jailed for a few hours Tuesday in Anadarko before being released on a $500,000 bond. His wife, Kristin Burns, was arrested Monday night, and she is free on a $100,000 bond.
Burns denies wrongdoing. His father said last week Burns cannot control whether his software was misused in Florida.
Authorities made more than 50 arrests last week after a yearslong investigation of Internet cafes run by Allied Veterans of the World. “The organization falsely claimed to be a charitable veterans' organization but instead deceived the public and government while lining the pockets of its operators,” the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
Authorities claim the organization had more than $300 million in revenue since 2007 but only gave about $6 million to charitable causes.
At a news conference Wednesday, Gerald Bailey, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said the arrests are only the first wave of the investigation, and the second wave will look at the “large sums” of money spent on lobbying and donations to political campaigns.
The commissioner did not give details.
Burns, whose father and brother are both former district attorneys, has not made any recent political donations in Oklahoma, records show.
He did give $500 in 2006 to Grady County Associate District Judge John Herndon.
In Florida, Burns gave to legislators, political parties and political groups under his own name, through a trust or through one of his companies.
He donated almost $60,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and almost $80,000 to the Florida Democratic Party, records show.
He also donated $4,800 in 2011 to the then-president of the Florida state Senate who was running for U.S. Senate
He donated $10,000 in Florida in October to a group called Citizens for Integrity in Government.
In North Carolina, he donated $55,000 to the Republican Party there, more than $110,000 to legislators and legislative candidates and $4,000 to Gov. Pat McCrory. Burns' wife also donated $4,000 to McCrory.
After learning of the Burns' donations to him, McCrory sent $8,000 from his campaign to a nonprofit homeless shelter in Durham, N.C.
“I wouldn't know him if I saw him,” said McCrory, a Republican.
“I think we got it through the mail. … If it's true what this guy did in the name of veterans, he ought to serve a lot of time in jail.”
Burns told The Oklahoman last week, “What we do is legal.”
He has hired Oklahoma City attorney Drew Neville, who has won acquittals before in high-publicity criminal cases. Neville declined to comment Friday.
Burns and IIT received “approximately 22 percent of all the illegal proceeds generated weekly by the illegal gambling centers,” according to his arrest affidavit filed in Florida.
Investigators also determined IIT “provides services including computer software, computer equipment and technical assistance to businesses operating gambling centers in the states of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas,” Seminole County, Fla., sheriff's Capt. James “Sammy” Gibson wrote.
Between January 2008 and March 2012, IIT received more than $68.6 million from the illegal Affiliated Veterans gambling operation, Gibson reported.
IIT received almost $100 million from Internet cafes in North Carolina, South Carolina and other states during that time, the sheriff's captain reported.
In October 2011, Burns and his son, then 2, were confronted outside his barn by Mindemann who wanted him to invest in a trash business.
In a report for a judge, Burns wrote Mindemann threatened to turn him in to the Internal Revenue Service for illegal gambling. He also wrote Mindemann threatened to kill him several times unless he invested $2.5 million.
“I told him I do nothing wrong and pay my taxes,” Burns wrote. “I told him I was only involved in legal markets.”
At one point, Burns wrote, Mindemann “pulled a gun out of the pickup and put a shell in it and said I was playing” Russian roulette.
“He spun the cylinder and cocked it and pointed it at my chest. He said I was going to invest and didn't have a choice,” Burns wrote. “He said I had 10 days or he would be back.”
Mindemann, 62, pleaded no contest last year to kidnapping for extortion and is serving a 10-year sentence.
In the report to the judge, Mindemann claimed Burns told him Burns' machines and an online poker business were making $1 million a month. He quoted Burns as saying, “That's not all profit. I have a lot of palms to grease.”
The Associated Press