Norman Steinberg, who his lawyer said was the No. 3 man in an online betting operation, has received a three-year suspended sentence and given court permission to resume his life in Costa Rica.
The operation, BetOnSports, was based in San José, but U.S. authorities successfully moved to shut it down in 2006.
According to reports from St. Louis, Missouri, where the case was centered, Steinberg filed a civil suit against the government in another state. The unknown allegations in that case caused prosecutors to seek a mild sentence for Steinberg. In exchange he dropped the case and pleaded guilty Thursday.
Two other BetOnSports figures got harsher penalties. Gary Kaplan, the majority owner, had to forfeit $43 million and serve three years in prison. David Carruthers, the chief operating officer, got a 33-month term. In all 11 persons involved in the betting operation were indicted.
The firm was licensed in Britain, and Carruthers is British. It operated legally in Costa Rica. He was picked up changing planes in Texas and taken to Missouri where prosecutors expected to find more sentiment against online betting. None of the cases ever went to a jury, however.
The firm stepped over the line by physically soliciting customers in the United States. Carruthers became a target when he went public defending online gambling via newspaper opinion pieces.