A federal judge on Tuesday allowed Teddy Mitchell out of jail, even though prosecutors alleged he has hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden away from his illegal gambling operation and may flee.
Oklahoma City U.S. Magistrate Judge Shon T. Erwin agreed Mitchell, 57, can be on home detention while awaiting trial in an illegal gambling case. Prosecutors had wanted him to remain in custody.
His movements will be tracked by an ankle monitor or some other device.
“This is a close one,” the judge said of his decision.
The judge required Mitchell's older sister, Debra O'Toole, to sign a $500,000 bond. The judge explained Mitchell did not have to put up any money to secure the bond, but his sister “will be on the hook for it” if he flees.
A federal grand jury indicted Teddy Mitchell, two of his sons, his best friend and five other men last week. They are accused of involvement in an illegal gambling operation that had at least $8.1 million in proceeds. The grand jury also indicted a Costa Rican company.
FBI agents arrested Mitchell on Friday. He had been held in the Grady County jail. He pleaded not guilty Monday.
The other defendants were released earlier.
Mitchell lives with his mother and his 3-year-old daughter, London, in Oklahoma City, his sister said.
His wife, Julie Mitchell, 34, was brutally beaten to death in their northwest Oklahoma City home on Nov. 2, 2010. The homicide remains unsolved. Mitchell stopped living there after the death.
The judge ordered Mitchell to surrender his passport, told him not to drink any alcohol and said he cannot gamble.
The judge also ordered Mitchell not to have any contact with witnesses or the other defendants.
The judge specifically stressed the restriction includes his indicted sons Dryden Mitchell, 32, and Nick Mitchell, 22.
The federal grand jury alleged in the 81-count indictment that Teddy Mitchell both hosted illegal poker games at his home and illegally took bets from across the country on sporting events.
Grand jurors alleged he eventually sent his clients to a sports betting Internet site run by the Costa Rican company, Gortation Management.
At a detention hearing Tuesday, a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service revealed that a confidential informant in 2007 secretly videotaped poker games at Teddy Mitchell's house.
“We have numerous hours of videotapes of the poker games,” IRS Special Agent Terri Battershell testified.
She said poker players who were interviewed for the investigation recalled the dealer would take a “rake” from the pot of each poker hand.
She testified witnesses described pots getting as high as $20,000 to $25,000. She said players complained about how much was raked from each hand.
“A lot of them told us it was unreasonable. They weren't too happy about it,” she said.
She also revealed that prominent businessmen and millionaires were among those who used Teddy Mitchell as their bookie to bet on sporting events.
She testified witnesses have told investigators of seeing Teddy Mitchell with hundreds of thousands of dollars in his pockets. She testified witnesses said he had millions of dollars in safes in different properties he owns.
“We have an idea where they are,” she testified.
Mitchell a flight risk
Prosecutors told the judge they believe Teddy Mitchell has hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden away. They called him a flight risk.
Defense attorney Scott Adams said Teddy Mitchell has known for more than two years that the FBI was investigating him over gambling.
“If Mr. Mitchell was a flight risk, he certainly wouldn't be here today. He would have gone away a long, long time ago,” the attorney told the judge.
Testimony during the hearing also revealed that Teddy Mitchell allegedly asked a prominent oil and gas businessman in December 2010 to hold $200,000 for him. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Kumiega pointed out to the judge that was the month after Teddy Mitchell's wife was killed.
Teddy Mitchell later asked his accountant to hold $100,000 for him, according to the testimony. The IRS agent told the judge Teddy Mitchell brought over the cash in grocery bags and also asked the accountant to hold on to millions of dollars worth of Julie Mitchell's jewelry.
The trial is set for Nov. 13 but a delay is expected.
His attorney said after the hearing he is confident Teddy Mitchell will be acquitted.
“We've got a defense for every bit of that stuff,” Adams told news reporters. “What Teddy did was all legal. Everything he did was legal. ... They're misrepresenting what's going on. I've always said that he was a professional gambler. Hell, he files his tax returns as a professional gambler. But then they want to sit there and say, ‘Bookie, bookie, bookie,' because it's the big, bad word. We'll take care of that at trial.”