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.”
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.
Thomas said Julie Mitchell never got the policy and that she told him later “Teddy did not want her to,” according to the FBI report.
Thomas got to know Teddy Mitchell from placing sports bets with him and playing poker in the high-stakes game at his home, the FBI reported.
Teddy Mitchell hosted poker games at his home on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the FBI reported.
The FBI reported Thomas in 2007 lost so much from sports bets that he agreed to let Teddy Mitchell be his partner in the insurance business as a way to pay back the gambling debt.
“Thomas recalled first meeting Teddy Mitchell at a poker game sometime in 2006,” the FBI reported. “Thomas stated that it was unforgettable because he was sitting next to Teddy and heard Teddy taking and placing large sports bets over the telephone.
“Thomas recalled Teddy taking or making a sports bet of approximately $80,000 that evening.”
Teddy Mitchell would place sports bets of his own, the FBI reported. Thomas said Teddy Mitchell at times got inside information, according to the report.
“Thomas recalled one instance when Teddy received a telephone call from an Arizona State football player while he was in the locker room during halftime of a football game,” the FBI reported. “This player provided Teddy with information and based on the information Teddy ... made $250,000 from that football game.”
Another witness in the investigation told the FBI in 2012 he “thinks it is more than a coincidence that Julie was killed on a Tuesday night, which is a night when Teddy might have significant cash on hand from his bettors.”
The witness, Jerry Wayne “Best Buy” Gilchrist, played poker at Teddy Mitchell's games and sometimes filled in as a dealer. Gilchrist, 36, of Oklahoma City, is on probation for his involvement in those poker games.
He told the FBI that police homicide detectives were focusing on the wrong people.
In his 2012 interview, Gilchrist also said he “first encountered Teddy in 2003 or 2004 at a poker game where they were seated next to one another” and “overheard Teddy placing a $10,000 wager on ... a New England Patriots football game.”
Gilchrist “labeled Teddy as greedy, hard to deal with and ‘always right,'” the FBI reported.
What's at stake
Teddy Mitchell is seeking leniency at his sentencing for the sake of his daughter, London, now 4.
“All she knows now is the love of her father,” his attorneys wrote in a sentencing memo. “They are extraordinarily close and Mr. Mitchell is an excellent and attentive father. … The less time Mr. Mitchell spends in prison, the better off London will be.”
He is asking the judge to give him six months or less in federal prison.
Prosecutors want the judge to at least give Mitchell five years in prison.