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Financial Crimes

Man pleads guilty to running an illegal gambling operation

WASHINGTON — A Washington, D.C., man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges involving the operation of an illegal gambling business, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Chun Liu, 55, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of conducting an illegal gambling business and one count of money laundering.

Liu's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2013. He faces up to five years in federal prison for conducting an illegal gambling business and up to 20 years for money laundering. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the charges carry a likely range of 12 to 18 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

As part of the plea agreement, Liu agreed to the forfeiture of $255,320, which represents proceeds from the gambling business. The amount includes more than $230,000 in cash seized by law enforcement authorities during a September 2011 search.

According to court documents, Liu and other individuals operated three illegal gambling establishments in the Chinatown area of Washington, D.C., from March 2007 through October 2011.

From approximately March to December 2007, Liu continuously operated a gambling establishment in the 800 block of Sixth Street NW. From April 2009 until December 2009, he moved the operation to another location on the same block. In February and March of 2010, the operation moved to the 500 block of H Street NW. And finally, from July 2010 until October 2011, Liu returned to the first location on Sixth Street NW.

The gambling activity typically took place from 9 a.m. until 3 or 4 a.m. At any given time, Liu operated electronic, touch-screen gaming machines and up to five Mahjong tables inside the gambling establishments. Liu conducted numerous financial transactions involving the proceeds of his illegal gambling activity, including paying rent for his residence, making monthly payments on his Mercedes-Benz automobile, and paying utility bills.