(JOPLIN, Mo., AP) — More than 600 pages of reports from an FBI investigation into Joplin-area gambling reveal a wide-ranging vice operation that involved numerous influential people in southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas.
The documents provided to The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/SoJHN0) redact names but show widespread vice in Jasper and Newton counties in Missouri and Cherokee County in Kansas, along with the efforts of federal agents to unravel it.
“Through source reporting, surveillance, phone and financial records, it was revealed that the gambling operation involved numerous influential people in Joplin and the surrounding community,” reads one of the reports.
In a letter accompanying the documents, the FBI said it released the 603 pages to the newspaper on June 2 in response to a Freedom of Information request filed nearly two years ago. The agency said it had reviewed a total of 1,038 pages. In all, the case involves more than 5,500 pages.
The agency, which withheld 435 of the pages it reviewed, cited exceptions in the FOI law. It plans to release more documents in increments, but no time frame has been specified.
The FBI case started in 2002 based on reports of bookmaking activity in the Joplin area and spread as other crimes began to emerge.
“Although the investigation centered around the gambling operation, sources continued to report a belief that (a bookie) was involved in much more. It was suspected he was involved in drug trafficking and prostitution and had numerous contacts within the judicial system, law enforcement and medical care communities,” an FBI investigator wrote in one report.
Some of the reports say that a bookie was in charge of what is referred to as a criminal organization of gambling.
All references to the names of those involved were blacked out.
The Globe sought the records of the long-term gambling and corruption probe in September 2012 after it led to the firing of a Joplin police officer and indictments against three bookmakers.
Also discussed in the documents were allegations involving then-Cherokee County, Kansas, prosecutor Michael Goodrich and a friend, and their conduct involving Sensations Gentlemen’s Club south of Galena, Kansas.
A federal investigator asked to consolidate the gambling investigation with a probe into public corruption.
Goodrich, then 49, pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge and was sentenced in 2009 to one year and one day in prison for taking money and favors from Sensations.
Three bookmakers were indicted in March 2008 and eventually pleaded guilty. They were fined $2,000 and placed on probation.
Investigators wrote on Aug. 1, 2011, that there had been disposition of all evidence in the case and, on Aug. 10, 2011, the file was noted as closed.