Teddy Mitchell is asking for leniency in his illegal gambling case for the sake of his 4-year-old daughter.
Mitchell has raised his daughter, London, by himself since his wife was beaten to death Nov. 2, 2010, in the bedroom of their Oklahoma City home. London was then 13 months old.
“All she knows now is the love of her father,” Mitchell's 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.”
The sentencing is set for Tuesday in Oklahoma City federal court. Mitchell, 59, is asking U.S. District Judge David Russell to give him six months or less in prison.
Prosecutors want the judge to be tough on Mitchell, who — they claim — was motivated by a lust for easy money.
Prosecutors suggested the judge consider as a benchmark the punishment he gave in 1997 to Mitchell's mentor, Nichols Hills gambler Pody Poe.
“This notorious and brazen scofflaw of Oklahoma City was sentenced to 60 months for the same type of conduct,” prosecutors wrote in a legal response to the sentencing memo.
Mitchell pleaded guilty in July to involvement in an illegal offshore Internet sports gambling business. Prosecutors called him one of the most successful “sub-agents” in the Costa Rica-based business, making roughly $900,000 a year.
Mitchell also pleaded guilty in July to a money-laundering conspiracy.
“I didn't realize I was doing something wrong,” he told the judge then.
Mitchell originally was charged with 49 felony counts but pleaded guilty to only two under a deal reached with prosecutors. The other counts will be dismissed at his sentencing.
Under the deal, the federal government gets more than $1 million worth of his real estate and other property.
Because of his wife's death, his case has attracted far more public attention than other gambling cases.
Police have made no arrests in the homicide of Julie Mitchell. She was 34. She and Teddy Mitchell had been married five years. He was traveling to California at the time of her death.
In their bid for leniency, defense attorneys filed almost 30 character letters from Mitchell's friends and relatives. Many asked the judge to consider London in deciding punishment.
“After the murder, she was laying on her mother's body, when her brother found her. She would not let anyone hold her except Teddy,” his mother, Lisa Mitchell, 81, wrote the judge. “This went on for quite some time. … To this day, if she hears loud men, outside the front door, she takes my hand and asks me not to open it.
“I pray that God will show you a way to punish him without taking him away from London. … You have the power to determine what kind of person she will be when she grows up. Please don't let her be a victim again.”
In the sentencing memo, defense attorneys argued that what Teddy Mitchell did is not a serious crime. They wrote he operated very much out in the open and his poker games and bookie activities were relatively well-known.
“Mr. Mitchell's offenses are not crimes of violence or otherwise the types of crimes that are considered extraordinarily grave by society,” the attorneys wrote. “The crimes charged in this case involve Mr. Mitchell and a group of individuals conducting a business involving poker games, betting on sporting events and other games of chance.
“All of the individuals betting with defendant did so voluntarily. No one was forced to participate. In fact, the vast majority of the gamblers were affluent and many held positions of prominence in the community.”
Defense attorneys also reveal in the sentencing memo that Teddy Mitchell suffers from a severe case of diabetes.
In the response to the memo, prosecutors contended that Teddy Mitchell's involvement in illegal Internet gambling was extensive. “The defendant was so successful that he commanded a 60 percent share of all money lost by his betting clients,” they told the judge of his bookmaking work.
They also told the judge he hosted illegal poker games at his home up to 20 hours a week. “It was not uncommon for ‘pots' to reach in excess of $10,000 three-four times on any given day,” prosecutors wrote.
“The defendant earned his living as a bookmaker for most of his adult life,” prosecutors wrote.
They contended he should have known better, since he had driven his mentor, Poe, to and from federal prison for the same offense.
“He willingly chose this profession and … recruited and corrupted his children into the easy-money bookmaking culture,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant outdid his mentor by embracing modern technology — the Internet — to fulfill his lust for easy money. Pody Poe would be proud.”
In an autobiography published before his death in 2006, Poe wrote, “Teddy and I have remained friends through thick and thin.”