3 arrested for bets on pigeon racing

March 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, March 19 (UPI) -- Three Oklahoma City residents face gambling conspiracy charges for allegedly betting on pigeon races at a 2010 local pigeon racing convention.

Karen M. Clifton, 51, Richard W. Mardis, 64, and James O. Steele, 62, were charged in Oklahoma County District Court Monday on two counts each of conspiracy to violate the state's anti-gambling act. They allegedly placed wagers on races during a convention hosted by the American Racing Pigeon Union, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman reported Tuesday.

The racing pigeon union kept 15 percent of all money wagered, before payouts to winners were made, prosecutors said in court papers.

The probable cause affidavit quoted an unidentified man telling investigators $5,000 to $10,000 in betting money was collected in the 30 to 45 minutes he assisted Steele in one of the convention's hotel rooms used for gambling.

"Most of us [participants] do it [race] for fun, and then we go to the conventions and we do it [place bets] for entertainment, just like going to the casinos over there in southwest Louisiana," an affidavit quoting Mardis states he told investigators.

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