57 people, businesses indicted in illegal sports gaming bust



CENTRAL FLORIDA - Thirty-four people and 23 businesses have been indicted and accused of operating an illegal sports bookmaking business, according to the United States  Department of Justice.

According to the Justice Department, the business solicited more than $1 billion in illegal bets.

Channel 9 was there Wednesday as federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office raided a home on Canterclub Trail between Longwood and Apopka.

"I looked and there were police cars and SWAT teams. Must've been 25-30 people in that yard," said John Banker, who lives near the residence that was raided.

Michael Casey Lawhorn, one of those arrested, lives in the home. He is accused of being a part of the illegal gambling ring running an operation called Legendz Sports.

According to the indictment, Lawhorn was acting as a bookie in Florida and in Panama.

The neighbors of Lawhorn, better known as "Big Mike,” said he recently put up a fence and elaborate security cameras just before his home was raided.

"He really has been spending a lot of money on a lot of different things," Banker said, referring to Lawhorn.

Banker said the agents showed up around 7 a.m. Wednesday. He said Lawhorn was put in cuffs.

"They had knocked at the door and people came rushing in with guns, put him on down, handcuffed him and carried him out," said Banker.

Channel 9 has learned that the operation is reported to have ties to Panama and Belize, as well as several other states.

According to the Department of Justice, Legendz Sports "allegedly used bookies located in the United States to illegally solicit and accept sports wagers as well as settle gambling debts."

"I'm just shocked, really shocked, because he seemed like a nice man, he really did. He seemed like a nice man, talked about going to church once, getting baptized," said neighbor Sue Banker.

Another Longwood man, Joseph Michael McFadden, has been indicted, as has Derek Edward Hewitt of Altamonte Springs and Paul Francis Tucker of Mount Dora.

No one answered at McFadden's house Wednesday night, but neighbors said agents raided his home earlier in the week.

Reports show McFadden went by "Roll Tide" in his position as an agent soliciting wagers for Legendz Sports.

No one answered at Tucker's house, but he didn't shy away from listing "gambling" as his profession on a social networking page.