Bookmaker pleads guilty in online sports-betting operation

A South Mississippi bookmaker faces prison time for his role in operating an illegal online sports-betting operation in the United States and Costa Rica.

Kenneth Schmitt pleaded guilty Tuesday on a federal charge of conspiracy to transmit wagering information, court records show.

He is free on bond until his March 16 sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr.

Schmitt faces maximum penalties of two years in prison, one year of probation and a $250,000 fine.

He and others tried to keep the operation a secret and to prevent participants from being identified and prosecuted, according to a bill of information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The operation provided password-protected access to several sports books in Costa Rica and used several ways of moving money, the charge said. The operation had a network of agents and others to oversee groups of gamblers.

The conspiracy began in September 2009 and continued through May 2014 in Hancock and Harrison counties, the charge said.

Schmitt has admitted he committed his crimes in Diamondhead and Biloxi.

As part of the conspiracy, he cashed a check for $2,370 — money related to the operation — on May 21, 2014.