Three Oklahoma City residents are accused of gambling on pigeon races

Karen M. Clifton, 51, Richard W. Mardis, 64 and James O. Steele, 62, were charged Monday in Oklahoma County District Court with conspiracy to violate state's anti-gambling act and commercial gambling.
by Tim Willert Published: March 19, 2013
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Three Oklahoma City residents are accused of participating in illegal gambling on pigeon races at a downtown Oklahoma City hotel in 2010.

Karen Mae Clifton, Richard Wayne Mardis and James Orr Steele each were charged Monday in Oklahoma County District Court with two counts of conspiracy to violate the state's anti-commercial gambling act and commercial gambling.

The wagering allegedly took place during a convention hosted by the American Racing Pigeon Union between Nov. 10-14, 2010, court papers state.

Investigators working for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals attended the convention and reported their findings, which included audio and video recordings, to Oklahoma City police.

Wagers were placed and money received for Belgian pools (10-1 payout); board pools (pari-mutuel-style wagering); and winner-take-all bets.

The racing pigeon union kept 15 percent of all money wagered, bet or pooled before any winnings were paid to racing participants, prosecutors said in court papers.

Clifton, 51, was listed in a probable cause affidavit as the union's executive director.

She told police she “was involved in securing the rooms, arranging for vendors and for the hospitality side” of the convention, court papers state.

Clifton said one of the rooms, referred to as Mall 167, was used for pari-mutuel wagering on the animals, court papers state.

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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