In an unusual plea, Teddy Mitchell admitted Monday he was guilty of involvement in an illegal Internet sports gambling business.
He insisted in court, though, that he didn't think at the time of his involvement that he was breaking the law.
The longtime Oklahoma City gambling figure also pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy.
“I didn't realize I was doing something wrong,” he told an Oklahoma City federal judge. “I paid taxes on it.”
U.S. District Judge David Russell will decide his punishment later. He faces up to 25 years in federal prison.
Mitchell, 58, is 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.
Also under the deal, he agreed to let the government take more than $1 million worth of real estate and other property. The forfeited assets include the $356,000 Oklahoma City house where his wife was beaten to death in 2010.
“I don't like it, no,” he acknowledged to the judge of giving up the property.
The homicide of his wife, Julie Mitchell, 34, remains unsolved.
His oldest son, Dryden R. Mitchell, 32, pleaded guilty Monday to one illegal gambling count for his involvement in the Internet business and to one money-laundering count. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison.
The rest of the 31 counts will be dismissed at sentencing under his deal with prosecutors.
A federal grand jury last year indicted Teddy Mitchell, sons Dryden Mitchell and Nick Mitchell, longtime friend David Loveland and five other men. Two pleaded guilty earlier and are awaiting sentencing.
Teddy Mitchell was accused in the indictment of illegally making millions of dollars by hosting high-stakes poker games at his Oklahoma City home and by taking bets on sporting events.
His jury trial had been set for August.
Teddy Mitchell admitted to the judge Monday that he went out and found people who wanted to bet on sporting events and then set them up online at a Costa Rican gambling site.
He said he paid and collected money off the bets.
He revealed he personally had 60 betting clients and was involved with the Internet sports gambling site from 2004 to 2010.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Altshuler said Teddy Mitchell has been involved in sports bookmaking most of his adult life.
“Would you agree with that?” the prosecutor asked. “Yes,” Teddy Mitchell replied.
The hearing Monday bogged down at one point when Teddy Mitchell said he bought rent houses with his profits from the gambling business but didn't do it to hide the source of the money. “I thought it was the best thing to do for retirement,” he said.
Because of that claim, the judge was hesitant at first to accept Teddy Mitchell's guilty plea to a money-laundering conspiracy. After a break, the judge agreed to accept the plea when Teddy Mitchell admitted to financial actions that promoted the Internet business.
In his separate guilty plea, Dryden Mitchell admitted he was involved in the Internet sports gambling business from 2005 or 2006 to 2010.
“It was pretty simple,” he said of his role of picking up and dropping off money.
He estimated he had 40 or 50 clients. He said his father was above him in the organization.
He also admitted that he used at least $10,000 in gambling funds as part of a down payment on his Oklahoma City house.
Mitchell turns focus
to solving wife's killing
Outside the courthouse Monday, defense attorney Scott Adams said Teddy Mitchell was excited to put the gambling case behind him so he could focus on finding out who killed his wife and on taking care of their daughter, London.
“That's all we really care about it,” Adams told news reporters.
Under his deal, Teddy Mitchell will get back about $90,000 held in trust for his daughter and will get to keep some real estate under the daughter's trust.
Julie Mitchell was found beaten to death in a bedroom closet of the Oklahoma City home in November 2010. Teddy Mitchell was traveling out of state at the time. The family has said money was missing from a closet safe.
London, then 1, was found beside the body in a pool of blood.
Adams on Monday called on the federal government to go after violent criminals.
“Leave the gamblers alone. They're not doing anything,” the defense attorney said.