2008 illegal online gambling related charges came back this week to bite Ronald Ehli, erstwhile head of payment processor EZPay and (according to prosecutors) Costa Rica-based online sports betting company Sportsbetting.com.
Media reports indicate there was collaboration between the US Justice Department and the Nicaraguan authorities in Ehli's arrest on passport-related charges in Nicaragua and subsequent return under escort to the United States. There he faces charges of unlawfully transmitting or receiving gambling information, and second-degree professional gambling in the Washington state Superior Court.
Ehli, who has been living in Nicaragua, ran into trouble with the Washington State Gambling Commission almost ten years ago when undercover agents of the commission ran a sting operation targeting Sportsbetting.com, withdrawing winnings which implicated Chehalis WA-based Ehli and his EZPay company.
A subsequent swoop on the EZPay offices by WSGC officials gathered computer and other evidence, leading to the seizure of almost $5 million in EZPay bank accounts and the formulation of online sportsbetting related charges against Ehli.
Ehli was out of the country at the time and remained so, taking up residence in Nicaragua and starting a fruit export business.
He has in the past denied operating Sportsbetting.com, implying that he was merely a payment processor, and explaining that embarrassment at the loss of EZPay client funds had led to his self-exile.
Pending a court hearing next week, Ehli is currently out on bail of $10,000; his US passport has been cancelled.