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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 116817
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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undercover cop

Customer Question

i take bets on sports.i believe i just met with an undercover cop.i had an ad on craigslist with my prepaid untraceable cell phone number and he called and i told him i would take his bets.i later called him and said i dont take bets my boss does.i ran his name under a computer paid search and nothing came up on his name or cell phone,he talked like a cop,what should i do,he never placed a bet with me.should i create a police report saying someone been putting my number on craigslist without my authorization?

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
I am afraid that if this was an undercover officer, no matter what you do now it is too late. If you already took his bet and/or told him you would take his bets, he already has evidence on you. Whatever you do now, other than shut down your operation for a little while and change numbers, will just make you look guilty and like you are covering your tracks. However, shutting down will not prevent them from charging you with bookmaking if they choose as MA laws on gambling are pretty liberally construed against gambling. MA Gen. Laws ch. 271, § 17 makes it illegal for a person to keep a place where they have “apparatus, books or any device, used for registering bets, or buying or selling pools, upon the result of a trial or contest of skill, speed or endurance of man, beast, bird or machine, or upon the result of a game, competition, political nomination, appointment or election . . . .”

The Massachusetts courts have gone so far as to hold that one can “register” a bet by committing it to memory. See: Commonwealth v. Cosolito, 269 N.E.2d 679, 681 (Mass. 1971). Massachusetts courts also interpret this definition of apparatus very broadly. The court in MA has held that an ordinary article, such as your prepaid cell, can become an apparatus when used in connection with gambling activity. See: Cosolito.

Thus, at this point you have already committed the violation I am afraid and if they choose to pursue the matter they already have their evidence against you, so you need to prepare yourself for defending and proving you do not take these bets. You can pretty much guarantee if he was the police your entire conversation will be audio recorded.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i never took any bets.he asked me if i would and i first said yes and then said i don t take bets,my boss does and i find customers.he never placed one bet with me.the phone was not recorded i can tell when they was on his cell and his was prepaid too.should i say and report to the police someone was using my number on craigslist and posting it?should i text him and say i dont take bets?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
The MA courts, as I said above, interpret any action regarding betting to be sufficient, the law does not say you actually have to take the bet. Offering to take the bets is sufficient. You do not know about recordings like you believe you do with some of the new devices on cell phones, I used them when I worked undercover, we are not talking about the old wire taps or trap and trace devices, we are talking the new digital recording devices that you can use with cell phones.

If you report this to the police as someone posting your number and he does have a recording of you saying you would take his bets, then they can add the charge of filing false police reports. I would not text him either at this point, as again, that makes you look guilty if he does have you recorded. You have to play this on the premise that if it was the police you can trust it was recorded because all undercover operations are recorded. You should not take any more phone calls from him and if he calls asking to bet THEN you can tell him you do not know what he is talking about and he must have the wrong number (do not say anything more than that).
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

can u let me know what the bookmaking law says i n mass,do u have exact section?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i pulled th elaw,it says they need a book of bets or a bet made.271 7 and 17 mgl.they have no records,another bookie got caught with records ,without them they have nothing or they need to place bets and money has to change hands

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Inaccurate answer.
i think an undercover cop met with me today.i take bets.i had an ad on craigslist saying we take bets and i had a prepaid untraceable number there.i told the cop i would take his bets but then i said i dont take bets my boss does.he never placed abet with me.will i be arrested?should i text him and say i dont take bets so i have a record of the statement?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 years ago.

I am very sorry you have misinterpreted the law I provided for you, but most non-lawyers do, which is why not only did I present the law to you, I gave you an actual case from the MA Supreme Judicial Court, which evidently you also misunderstood and led you to claim my service was poor when I provided you not only the MA statute but a Supreme Court case to tell you what the law was.

I also apologize that you do not like the law, but your reply about needing to get caught with "records" is false and a gross misunderstanding of the MA law. As a MA criminal attorney, I can assure you they have convicted people for less than having records under their book making statute and if you actually read the Supreme Court case, the person can be convicted for keeping track of bets in their head, NO RECORDS OR REGISTER, so your idea of a register or records is poor judgment on your part and please do not delude yourself if you really think this was a police officer.

Again, you keep discounting that if this was an undercover officer your whole conversation is on tape, whether you would like to admit that to yourself or not, if he is a cop you are on tape saying what you said. The fact you used a cell phone (which is an apparatus or tool) and again, I beg you, READ THE COURT CASE I PROVIDED YOU, the COURT, not ME, says that the phone if you said on the phone that you would take his bets and if this was in fact a police officer as you suspect, they would have you recorded saying that, then they have shown probable cause that you used a tool or apparatus, your phone, to agree to take bets.

Of course, like you were above in your statements, you could also be dead wrong about this being a cop or an undercover operation to catch you book making.

However, the law I quoted you and the case law I provided you is not only accurate in MA, but I have to defend people constantly on the charge and without audio or video tape the defense is not bad, if they have audio or video defending people like you in this situation becomes extremely difficult, but we have to remind our clients that we are only attorneys trying to deal with the law someone else wrote.

I would thank you for you understanding you misinterpreted the law and do not go off thinking it is okay, because that would be a huge mistake on your part and could indeed lead to your arrest.