24 July 2006

By David Litterick in Fort Worth and Harry Wallop
(Filed: 22/07/2006)

David Carruthers faces the prospect of a four-day bus trip in sweltering temperatures across the southern United States after waiving his right to a bail hearing in Fort Worth.

After being arrested at Dallas airport on Sunday, the chief executive of BetonSports will now be transported by marshals from the federal jail in Forth Worth to a holding centre in Oklahoma City. From there he will be taken to a prison in St Louis, Missouri.

David Carruthers
David Carruthers: bearing up ‘very well, under the circumstances’

He appeared at a scheduled hearing in Forth Worth courthouse yesterday, wearing a short-sleeved orange jump suit over a white T-shirt, handcuffed, and shackled at the ankles.

Sources close to his defence team said the businessman, who has been an outspoken critic of US gambling laws, was bearing up “very well, under the circumstances”. He intended to plead not guilty to the charges against him.

After a session lasting less than five minutes his lawyer, Tim Evans, said the bail hearing would now be held when Mr Carruthers arrives in St Louis. “Late yesterday afternoon, we determined it would be in Mr Carruthers’ best interests to waive our right to a detention hearing here,” Mr Evans said.

Mr Garber countered: “I would ask the DoJ that if online gambling is illegal, why are there three Bills waiting to go to the Senate trying to make online gambling illegal?”

He admitted that while he had no fear of arrest, the regulatory environment in the US was a serious concern and was driving the company’s move towards attracting more non-US customers.

Americans make up 76pc of its customer base and Mr Garber intends that this figure should fall to less than 50pc within a year, as the company spends up to $2bn (£1.08bn) on acquisitions.

“It’s smart business to diversify,” Mr Garber said.

It is understood that Mr Carruthers has not yet been able to see his wife Carole, who was arrested with him when they changed planes in Dallas, en route from the UK to Costa Rica, where BetonSports is based. She was later released and sources said arrangements were being made for her to visit him “very soon”.

The US marshals service said it was usual for suspects to be taken, restrained at all times, by bus from Fort Worth to its hub in Oklahoma City. From there prisoners can be taken to St Louis either by bus or by plane, a scenario made famous by the film “Con Air”.

As the journey is broken up by regular stops along the way to take on or drop off prisoners, a marshals service spokesman said the trip could take three or four days. Temperatures in the southern US are currently well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mr Carruthers, BetonSports’ founder Gary Kaplan, and nine others face charges of racketeering, mail fraud and tax evasion in a 22-count indictment.

PartyGaming’s shares, helped by a 49pc increase in second-quarter revenues, closed up 9½ to 96¾p.

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