Witness says he made gambling payments to Irmo bookie’s wife

nophillips@thestate.comSeptember 16, 2013 

A sports gambler told a federal jury Monday that he handed money to an Irmo bookie’s wife on more than one occasion when he settled debts.

Harold “Hal” Saxby began placing bets with Brett Parker after meeting him at a fantasy football draft in 2006. Saxby estimated that he lost between $100,000 to $130,000 to Parker over the years and to settle those debts he would sometimes deliver envelopes of cash to the Parkers’ home.

From time to time, Tammy Jo Parker would answer the door.

“I would ask Tammy to give it to Brett,” Saxby said. “I would give her an envelope with Brett’s name on it.”

Tammy Jo Parker’s participation in the sports-betting operation is key to the federal gambling case against Brett Parker, his father Jack Parker, and Douglas E. Taylor, who worked for Jack Parker.

To convince a jury the three are guilty, assistant U.S. attorneys Nancy Wicker and Winston Holliday must prove that five or more people participated in the ring and that the operation ran over 30 consecutive days or had a gross revenue of $2,000 on any given day.

They have told the jury that Bryan Capnerhurst, Brett Parker’s clerk, was the fourth member.

To get to five, Wicker and Holliday are trying to prove that Tammy Parker was involved. In opening arguments, Holliday also told the jury that other participants in the ring are area bookies who helped Brett Parker set the lines on games and who also allowed him to place so-called insurance bets to prevent large losses.

But Kathy Evatt, Parker’s federal public defender, said prosecutors were throwing out names in hopes one would stick in jurors’ opinions of who could have been a fifth member.

“Don’t let them throw out a whole list of names and hope one of those sticks,” Evatt said. “It could be. It could be. It could be. Ask yourself throughout this trial, ‘Who is the fifth?’”

The gambling ring was exposed in April 2012 when Brett Parker shot and killed his wife and Capnerhurst in a scheme to inherit her savings and life insurance policy. Brett Parker, who has said he is a gambling addict, owed $176,000 in lost bets to another Midlands bookie.

Brett Parker is serving a life sentence in a South Carolina prison for the killings, but attorneys and witnesses are not allowed to talk about the murders in the gambling trial.

The federal trial is revealing more details about the business of sports gambling and how bookies set the odds in favor of themselves.

Saxby was one of four men who testified Monday about calling or texting the Parkers to bet on everything from college football to NCAA basketball championships to Super Bowls and even soccer matches.

Saxby had the largest habit, sometimes betting up to $400 on a single game. He told jurors he would bet on 10 to 20 games a week during college football season with the typical bet being between $100 to $200.

The Parkers would put limits on the amounts new clients could bet, and they would require the new clients to settle every Monday, usually before the Monday night football game during the NFL’s season, according to the former clients’ testimony.

As clients proved they were reliable in settling debts, the Parkers would increase their betting limits and allow them to carry balances as long as they made regular payments, testimony said.

Prosecutors showed the jury copies of two $6,000 cashiers checks that Saxby had delivered to Brett Parker to settle some of his debt. Those checks were issued Jan. 5, 2012, and Jan. 12, 2012. Those two checks did not resolve Saxby’s debt, but they gave him room to bet more and reduce future payments.

Another gambler, Trent Crider of St. Matthews, testified that he had two phone numbers to call to place bets. He considered himself one of Jack Parker’s clients and made bets with him or Taylor.

After the 2012 Super Bowl, Jack Parker told his clients he was closing his sports book because of health problems and referred them to his son. After that, Crider said he began betting with Brett Parker but sometimes Jack Parker would answer the phones to take the bets.

Crider said he did not know how much he had won or lost over the years, but “I would like to think that I was up over the years.”

However, the other three gamblers said they rarely won.

Donald Schadel of Columbia said he studied sports-betting magazines and websites in hope of improving his odds.

“I would study those things ’til I was blue in the face,” Schadel said. “Not that it translated into winnings.”

Phillip Shealy of Gilbert said his highest weekly loss was around $3,000, but in the week he considered his biggest win he only took home $700.

“I could not beat those guys for anything,” Shealy said.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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