A former bookie who learned the illegal business from his father was sentenced Monday to six months in federal prison.
Dryden R. Mitchell had sought only probation, but the judge noted he had openly and flagrantly violated illegal gambling laws for years.
“Society's got to see that there is a price to pay for that,” U.S. District Judge David Russell said at the sentencing in Oklahoma City federal court.
Dryden Mitchell, 33, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty in July to two felonies for his involvement in the illegal Internet sports wagering business and for money laundering.
Under a deal with prosecutors, other felony counts against him were dismissed Monday. Also under the deal, he forfeited to the federal government assets worth as much as $250,000, said his attorney, Billy Bock.
He will be on supervised release for two years after he completes his prison term.
His father, Teddy Mitchell, is awaiting sentencing for involvement in the same illegal Internet business and for a money-laundering conspiracy.
The case has attracted considerable public attention because of the unsolved beating death of Teddy Mitchell's wife. The body of Julie Mitchell was found Nov. 2, 2010, in the closet of the master bedroom of their Oklahoma City home. Police have made no arrests.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Altshuler told the judge Monday that Dryden Mitchell lived the “freewheeling, easy money, fast life” of a bookmaker for 10 years and had 70 clients. The prosecutor said Dryden Mitchell also was very much involved in his father's illegal poker games.
The prosecutor said that instead of grieving after his stepmother's death, Dryden Mitchell worried about the impact it would have on his bookmaking business. The prosecutor said Dryden Mitchell told a relative he bet only about seven clients would continue to bet with him.
In a legal filing last week, the prosecutor suggested that Dryden Mitchell “was being groomed by his father … to one day take over the family business of illegal bookmaking.”
“That is not true,” Dryden Mitchell told the judge Monday. He said his father actually repeatedly encouraged him to do something else for a living or to go back to college.
He also told the judge the case has changed his life for the better. He said he now works as a landman and has given up drug use.
“I rationalized the bending of the laws because I didn't think I was hurting anyone,” he said of his bookmaking.
“I want nothing to do with the life I led as a gambler,” he said. “I give you my word. … I will never go back to that lifestyle again.”
The judge showed Dryden Mitchell some leniency because of his missionary work.
Defense attorneys told the judge Dryden Mitchell has made mission trips to Peru, Mexico, India and Nepal. Missionary Steve Hollingsworth told the judge in a character letter that he recognized during a trip to Peru in 2004 that “Dryden had a tender heart and a desire to help people.”
Also sentenced Monday was Jerry “Best Buy” Wayne Gilchrist, 36, of Oklahoma City.
Gilchrist pleaded guilty in August to illegal gambling. He admitted then he had “dealt some card games at Teddy Mitchell's house.”
Gilchrist said Monday he first dealt cards at Teddy Mitchell's house when he was playing poker there and the dealer, Julie Mitchell, said she needed a break. He said he filled in for her.
Gilchrist also was involved as a bookie with another group and hosted his own poker games at times, the judge was told.
The judge put Gilchrist on probation for two years, fined him $2,000 and ordered him to complete 104 hours of community service.