- Associated Press - Friday, June 27, 2014

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - In a story June 26 about a former fire captain who was sentenced for running an illegal sports gambling business, The Associated Press, relying on information from the U.S. attorney’s office, erroneously reported the number of years of probation that Tod Hipsher will serve. Hipsher will serve two years of probation, not three.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Ex-fire captain sentenced in gambling case

Retired LA County fire captain sentenced for running illegal sports gambling business

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A former Los Angeles County fire captain who pleaded guilty earlier this year to operating an illegal offshore gambling business in a plea deal was sentenced Thursday to probation and fines.

Tod Hipsher, who retired late last year, received two years of probation and a $5,000 fine, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Prosecutors said Hipsher at least partly operated his piece of the Costa Rica-based online sportsbook while on duty at a fire station in the scandal-plagued city of Bell and netted hundreds of thousands of dollars over a dozen years by recruiting bettors and collecting debts for the online Tradewinds sportsbook, which took wagers on the Super Bowl, college basketball games and other events.

There are hundreds of offshore sportsbooks operating online but it is illegal to use them from the United States.

Tradewinds is based in Costa Rica, where sportsbooks are allowed, and has not been charged in the case, officials have said.

The federal investigation into Hipsher and at least a half dozen associates began in 2009 following a tip from the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Undercover federal agents posing as debt collectors went to the fire station in 2011 and met at least twice with Hipsher.

Authorities subsequently searched his Irvine home and seized $200,000 in cash.

Hipsher’s lawyer, Victor Sherman, said his client felt the sentence was fair.

“He’s grateful that the judge is giving him another chance to prove he’s a worthwhile person,” Sherman said.

Hipsher, who has remained free on bail, reached a plea deal in late 2013 but didn’t enter his guilty plea until January. The delay allowed him to retire.

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