Oklahoma bookie had prominent clients, once made $1 million-plus in a week, witness says

Teddy Mitchell's gambling case attracted considerable public attention because his wife was fatally beaten at their Oklahoma City home. Police have made no arrests in her homicide.
by Nolan Clay Modified: January 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm •  Published: January 16, 2014

Illegal gambler Teddy Mitchell, who faces sentencing Friday, “would brag ... that everyone from the ‘small to the big' bet with him,” a key witness in the federal investigation recalled.

“Teddy would often allude to the fact that he had prominent figures in the community as close friends and/or betting clients,” the witness, insurance agent Michael Wayne Thomas, said in a 2011 FBI interview.

Mitchell claimed his “best week as a sports bookie” was when he made more than $1 million in net profits off bets lost by his betting clients, the witness also recalled.

An Oklahoma City federal judge is set to sentence Mitchell, 59, on Friday for his role in an illegal offshore Internet business that took bets on sporting events.

U.S. District Judge David Russell also will sentence Mitchell for his participation in a money-laundering conspiracy. Mitchell pleaded guilty in July.

Mitchell was indicted on 49 felony counts but pleaded guilty to only two under a deal reached with prosecutors. In the deal, the federal government gets more than $1 million worth of his real estate and other property.

The gambling case has attracted considerable public attention because his wife, Julie Mitchell, was brutally beaten to death in their northwest Oklahoma City home on Nov. 2, 2010. Police have made no arrests in her homicide. She was 34.

Teddy Mitchell was traveling to California at the time of her death.

The key witness, Thomas, 42, told the FBI that Teddy Mitchell in 2010 feared that his wife would divorce him.

“Thomas stated that Teddy and Julie were ... having ‘problems,'” the FBI reported in a 39-page report. “During the summer of 2010, Teddy began taking measures to hide his money and make Julie think that the sports betting business was having a horrible year. Teddy told Thomas that he had between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000 in cash and that he was hiding the money or keeping the money in several places ... Teddy told Thomas that he had a lot of cash hidden within the walls of one of his rental properties.”

FBI report

Homicide detectives focused on Thomas for a time during their investigation into Julie Mitchell's death. They searched his Edmond home and insurance agency. The FBI, however, did not consider him a suspect.

The Oklahoman in December obtained a copy of the secret FBI report on Thomas' interview. He spoke to an FBI special agent, an Internal Revenue Service investigator and two federal prosecutors.

Teddy Mitchell's lead attorney, Scott Adams, called Thomas a liar. The attorney also said, “Teddy and him weren't even close.”

The FBI reported Thomas said Julie Mitchell came to him in 2010 “just prior to her murder ... and asked him to provide her with a life insurance policy.” The beneficiary was to be her daughter, London, who was born in 2009.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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