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Fathera nds onj ailed for illegal bookmakingb usiness.

Byline: Tony Smurthwaite

A FATHER and son from Preston who ran an illegal bookmaking and moneylending business have been jailed. In the first case of its kind, James Alston, 74, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months and his son, former professional boxer James Alston, 45, jailed for 12 months at Preston Crown Court.

In a 13-day trial, the pair denied illegal money lending, money laundering and possessing criminal property from proceeds of acting as an unlicensed bookmaker.

The court heard that Alston snr operated as a loan shark for six years and with his son for two years. They lent money to friends then charged steep amounts of interest.

The pair had been prosecuted by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, the Gambling Commission and Lancashire Trading Standards.

Tony Quigley, head of the money lending team, said: "This sends a clear message that loan sharking and other related criminal activity will not be tolerated."

Many of the borrowers were never given paperwork so kept in the dark as to how much they were repaying.

The living room of Alston snr's twobedroom apartment contained three TV screens tuned to various racing channels and a fruit machine for gamblers to use. A keyboard and monitor bet settler was also found during the search, an item commonplace in licensed bookmaking premises used for settling complex betting transactions.

While the scale of their illegal business is unknown, pounds 19,000 in cash was seized and evidence included a book containing betting transactions, with bets placed with Alston snr amounting to more than pounds 22,000 in a four-month period.

The Gambling Commission's regional compliance manager Alan Green said: "The proceeds from unlicensed bookmaking were taken from very vulnerable people who were often drawn into betting with the Alstons in order to clear or reduce debts that had been built-up through illegal money lending."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2012
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