HOUSTON, TX- A 48-year-old Iola resident has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of waging paraphernalia, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Marcos Trevino admitted to operating a raffle that offered a chance to win a limited edition Dodge Challenger SRT Demon automobile from 2018 to 2022. He promoted it throughout the United States on various websites, social media and at auto shows. The raffle’s website made it appear as though the participant was not purchasing a ticket. They were supposedly getting a koozie which, in turn, would grant them one entry for the drawing. The total cost of each of the beverage holders was $105.
The rules claimed no purchase was necessary and that a purchase would not improve chance of winning. However, there was no alternate means of entry other than the purchase of the koozie.
Despite the raffle being in existence for almost four years, there was no drawing or receipt of prizes by any participants. No one has ever received a koozie. Trevino still had the Dodge Demon on his property at the time of his arrest. According to the website, total ticket sales reached 765 (resulting in funds totaling $80,325).
Such a raffle is illegal for to conduct for various reasons. A charitable organization does not run it, there was no date was set for the drawing, there was no end date, proceeds were not spent on a lawful purpose, and it included statewide and interstate advertising.
In addition, although the website claimed that a money back guarantee, there was no method described for a participant to get his/her money back.
U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett accepted the plea and set sentencing for Dec. 7. At that time, Lopez faces up to five years in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine. He could also be ordered to forfeit the earnings from the raffle and provide restitution to the participants.
Previously released on bond, Trevino was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam L. Goldman is prosecuting the case.