LANSING (WWJ) - A Westland couple accused of running a multi-county illegal sports betting operation have issued pleas in the case.
Seventy-year-old John Zunich and his 68-year-old wife Ellen Jane Zunich both entered pleas for felony charges before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner.
John Zunich pleaded guilty to one count of conducting criminal enterprises (racketeering), and no contest to one count of failure to file/false taxes. Ellen Zunich pleaded no contest to one count of failure to file/false taxes.
In a separate criminal forfeiture proceeding, Judge David Groner authorized the forfeiture of $609,000 in funds believed to be derived from the proceeds of the illegal gambling operation. The funds will go to the Westland Police Department.
“This investigation was spread over a seven month period and involved several law enforcement partners,” Westland Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik said in a statement. “These type of investigations often lead us to suspects tied to the criminal underground. The Westland Police Department intends to spend these forfeiture dollars towards the enhancement of future law enforcement investigations.”
A joint investigation found that John Zunich took straight bets as a bookie between December 2, 2002 and May 1, 2012. Further investigation also established that John Zunich printed football betting cards at ArtCraft Printing in Detroit, of which he was the owner and operator.
Prosecutors said John Zunich would print college and professional betting cards and distribute them across multiple contacts in multiple counties, including Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. While the scheme primarily focused on college and professional football betting, officials said John Zunich also coordinated bets on college basketball.
Investigators said John Zunich’s wife handled all of the bookkeeping for both the legitimate aspects of the Detroit printing business and the illegal gambling operation. Officials said Ellen Zunich knew that her husband took illegal bets as a bookie, and was instrumental in making gambling proceeds appear as if they were legitimate income.
“When illegal gambling goes unchecked, it threatens public safety for everyone,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Westland Police Department and the Michigan Gaming Control Board for their efforts in this important investigation.”
Both defendants are due back in court on Nov. 5 for sentencing.