After having spent three years in a Missouri hotel under house arrest and only days before being due for sentence by a US judge in the court case over charges of racketeering, David Carruthers, the Betonsports chief executive has decided to withdraw his guilty plea.
Carruthers was famously arrested at Dallas airport by US law enforcement officers as he changed planes while en route to his company’s Costa Rica operational headquarters from Britain. The Scotsman was accused of infringing US law for his part in running a company that, due to the change in the law on gambling with the introduction of the UIGEA, illegally accepted sports bets from American citizens over the Internet. The case drew a lot of international attention amid accusations of over-zealous judicial interfering.
Since his arrest, Carruthers has been under electronic surveillance while being confined mainly to his St Louis hotel awaiting trial. In April this year, he came to an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty in a deal that would have seen him serve 33 months in jail as the recommended penalty for his offence.
As the final days approached before the hearing at which he was due for sentencing by a judge that was set for Friday 2nd October, the plea deal broke down abruptly. The court has noted, in a somewhat terse legal filing that a motion has been granted to set aside the defendant’s guilty plea and a further hearing has been arranged for 14th October.
There has been no indication from Carruthers or his attorney, Scott Rosenblum as to why the plea has been changed at this late hour. Prosecutors are similarly tight lipped about the case where several other executives from Betonsports including its founder Gary Kaplan are still known to be pleading guilty.
This latest development has surprised supporters of the chief executive who were hoping that Carruthers would be permitted to return home as early as Friday. His lawyers had been set to argue that he had already effectively served the agreed 33 month sentence during his hotel confinement, where he was on bail for $1m since August.
Democrat Barney Frank had described the airport arrest of the British citizen as being one of the worst Stalinist things he’d ever seen his government do.