Teddy Mitchell pleaded not guilty Monday to a federal indictment that accuses him of heading up an illegal gambling business that made $8.1 million before it ended.
Mitchell, whose wife was beaten to death in their Oklahoma City home in 2010, is accused of both hosting illegal poker games at his home and illegally taking bets from across the country on sporting events in an 81-count indictment.
“It's always been Teddy's position that what he was doing was not illegal,” said his defense attorney, Scott Adams. “He was a professional gambler.”
A federal grand jury in Oklahoma City last week indicted Mitchell, two of his sons, Dryden Mitchell and Nick Mitchell, a longtime friend, David Loveland, and five other men. The grand jury also indicted a Costa Rican company, Gortation Management.
The indictment was made public Monday.
“I hope the message is: ‘Don't do it,'” U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats told reporters at a news conference about the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Kumiega told a federal magistrate judge Monday that Teddy Mitchell, 57, was the “leader and organizer” of the business. Prosecutors want him to be detained until trial. They argue he is a flight risk.
A detention hearing for Teddy Mitchell is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. FBI agents arrested him Friday.
No one has been charged yet in the homicide of his wife, Julie Mitchell, 34.
She was found in a pool of blood in the closet of the master bedroom on Nov. 2, 2010. Oklahoma City police detectives still are investigating.
The indictment does not mention the death.
The investigation of the gambling operation began years before she was killed, according to Coats and Jim Finch, the FBI special agent in charge in Oklahoma.
“This was not an investigation of a couple of guys who just stopped by the house for a friendly small-stakes poker game,” Finch said. “This was a major, organized criminal investigation of illegally gambling and money laundering. ... We've been watching this group for a while.”
Defense attorney Billy Bock, who represents Dryden Mitchell, said it is obvious the FBI had stopped looking into accusations of gambling before the death.
“It didn't mean anything to anybody,” Bock said. “I think no one cared — victimless type of situation. Then Julie gets killed, and they kick the dust off this investigation.”