Appeals Court Won't Review Racing Services Ruling

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it will not review its decision to overturn the case against Susan Bala, the founder of Racing Services Inc. who was convicted in 2005 of illegal gambling.

“We’re out of options,” U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said June 11 after getting word about the 14-word order filed in St. Louis, Mo., the week of June 3.

Lizabeth McKibben, Bala’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The decision came less than two months after Wrigley asked the three-judge panel to reconsider its reversal of the 2005 conviction against the founder of Racing Services, based in North Dakota. A jury found Bala guilty on 12 felony counts of illegal gambling. The appeals court reversed it--and a $99-million forfeiture order--May 9.

“I understood that our chances weren’t very good,” Wrigley said. “I felt obligated, frankly, to try and shed some light on some very important legal principles. I accept the result.”

Authorities said Bala was not paying taxes on some bets and that she failed to register one of the gambling sites through a charity, as required by law. Two other defendants in the case, Raymundo Diaz Jr. and Gary Storm, pleaded guilty. In sentencing Bala, U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson told her she failed to protect the state from “unsavory characters” and ordered her to serve 27 months in prison.

The appeals panel said the case didn’t belong in federal court, and the government failed to prove any of the charges. It also said the North Dakota Racing Commission didn’t draft rules for Bala’s company to comply with the law. The unanimous opinion was written by the chief appeals court judge.

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