COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) - Three men who pleaded guilty to running a Columbia gambling ring connected to a double murder suspect in October were sentenced on gambling charges Tuesday, according to U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles.
Lanny Ray Gunter II, 42, of Chapin was sentenced to five months in prison, to be followed by five months home confinement. Gunter was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
Harry Bruce Benenhaley, 66, of Columbia and Ronald Dale Spence, 61, of Irmo were both sentenced to five years probation, including six months of home confinement. The were also ordered to pay fines of $2,000.
The maximum penalty would have been five years in prison.
Authorities say the men conducted a sports gambling business in the Columbia area between 2006 and 2012, according to evidence presented at the change of plea hearing.
The three were charged as a result of an investigation of another alleged sports bookie. Authorities say Brett Parker needed money and shot his wife and another alleged bookie to make it look like the shooting was self-defense.
Federal prosecutors say Gunter loaned Parker $5,000 to start his own betting operation but say Parker owed 175,000 to Gunter when he was charged with murder.
Nettles says Gunter supervised the business, provided financing when necessary, and directed the web operation. Benenhaley oversaw day-to-day operations at Gunter's direction. This included receiving and monitoring text messages early on, answering the phones, looking at daily statistics, making pick-ups and drop-offs, then later (around 2010) verifying information on the gambling web sites used by the organization. Spence ran his own gambling operation that eventually merged into and shared profits with Gunter and Benenhaley, with each receiving 25 percent to Spence's 50 percent. The three made use of an Irmo-area business to drop off and pick up gambling proceeds.
The primary betting activity took place during football and basketball seasons, but included baseball more recently. The business had 30 to 35 regular clients and 20 to 30 "spot" players, according to Nettles.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)