Gloria Williams had nothing to say before she was sentenced Wednesday to 63 months in prison for bingo fraud, tax evasion and mail fraud.

Her sister, Rita Tipton, reiterated arguments made by her attorney, Michael Dean, arguing that her gambling losses shown by the U. S. attorney were inaccurate. She offered no regrets, apologies or vindication.

Tipton had plenty to say to media, prosecuting attorneys, Kentucky Office of Charitable Gaming officials and Internal Revenue Service officers who previously testified against her as she left the courtroom Wednesday.

“Let’s all get out of here so they can go celebrate,” Tipton said in one comment.

Tipton, too, will serve 63 months in prison.

Williams and Tipton were convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and three counts of tax evasion Sept. 21 for their participation in scams to skim bingo profits while operating Jackpot Charity Bingo in Waco. Final sentencing for the sisters was conducted Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman, who also assigned restitution of $32,546 to Tipton and $48,865 to Williams. Both women were ordered to report to prison on Jan. 22.

“I know this is not an easy day for you or your family and friends,” Coffman told the sisters. “I’m going to let you spend the holidays with them.”

The defense argued several objections Wednesday in reference to the defendants’ pre-sentence report, which determined the guidelines by which Tipton and Williams were sentenced.

In a sentencing memorandum filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor, the amount of tax due to the Internal Revenue Service was determined using an expenditure analysis presented during the trial. An estimate of the money the sisters reportedly skimmed from bingo profits also was determined by averaging known figures from nights on which officers from the Kentucky Office of Charitable Gaming were present at the bingo hall.

At an average of $1,900 in profit per night and an average of 21 nights of bingo operation per month, a total estimate of more than $1.4 million in profits was determined to have been made by fraudulent bingo activities, Coffman said. The profits and amounts of unpaid taxes were factors in determining a sentencing range of 63-78 months imprisonment.

“These numbers aren’t real,” Dean said. “They are speculating that these ladies actually made money not only on the nights in question, but made money every night.”

Because the $1.4 million figure was based on an estimate that could not be exacted, Dean contended that the sentence range by which the sisters should be sentenced should be adjusted to a range of 0-12 months. Taylor said in the sentencing memorandum that it was impossible to put a precise figure on the amount of money the sisters reportedly took from bingo.

“That lack of precision should not inure to her benefit to the extent suggested by the defendant —i.e. that the loss be ignored,” Taylor said in the sentencing memorandum.

Coffman overruled the objection, as well as objections to an increased offense level based on allegations of obstruction of justice, in which the defendants are accused of giving false testimony during their trial.

Testimony was heard from the defendants in which they were asked direct questions and denied any part of fraudulent bingo activities, Coffman said.

“Those answers are material and false,” Coffman said. “It goes to obstruction.”

More than 40 witnesses testified in the eight-day trial in September, including family members, bingo players, OCG investigators, casino operators and IRS investigators. Tipton and Williams also testified in their own defense.

Family members and friends filled the courtroom Wednesday, sniffling and crying after Coffman announced the sisters would be serving a prison sentence. Dean said it would be up to his clients whether or not they planned to appeal, but he felt sure it would be what they wanted to do. He said he “absolutely did not” feel the sentence levied against the women was a just one.

“It is unfair and exaggerated any losses or under-reported income,” Dean said.

Kelly Foreman can be reached at kforeman@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.

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