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22 September 2006

Hopes that Louisiana warrant will be quashed on September 28, but what about the other 49?

With ex-Sportingbet chairman (he resigned Thursday) Peter Dicks safely on a 'plane out of America on Friday, details on his surprise release continued to come to light.

Dicks was arrested September 6 as he arrived on US soil to attend board meetings at a major New York company. Apparently a Louisiana warrant about which neither he nor Sportingbet knew was used to deprive him of his liberty for "gambling on computers" unspecified offences in a small parish in a state that Dicks has not visited in 20 years. After two nights in detention, reason prevailed at a bail hearing and he was released on a relatively low bail with a requirement to remain in New York, surrendering his passport.

A hearing to rule on an application to extradite the British executive to Louisiana was set for last Thursday after he gave notice that he would be vigorously opposing any such transfer.

However, Dicks's U.S. legal team headed by Barry Slotnick were clearly not letting the grass grow under its feet, approaching the New York governor's office on Wednesday with a formal request that Governor George Pataki withdraw a warrant that he had signed allowing Dicks' extradition to Louisiana.

Slotnick has subsequently revealed that he and his client argued that Louisiana's request for extradition " inappropriate and that Peter Dicks has not committed any crimes there or anywhere. He hasn't been in Louisiana for 20 years."

On Thursday in court, Dicks was informed that the governor had withdrawn the warrant. Restrictions on Dicks' $50 000 bail that barred him from leaving New York were lifted and his travel documents returned.

"There is nothing pending in terms of any accusations against Dicks in the state of New York," Slotnick told The Associated Press, adding that Dicks was now free to travel back to London, where he lives.

A spokeswoman in the governor's office, Jessica Scaperotti, said the governor's decision was made in consultation with prosecutors in Louisiana and New York. "The decision was made to withdraw the extra warrant pending legal review of the arguments raised by Mr. Dick's attorneys," she said.

When he's back in court later this month, Slotnick said, "It's our hope that the (Louisiana) warrant at that time will be totally withdrawn."

Slotnick said Dicks is appearing in court New York on Sept. 28 only "because Louisiana is requesting his presence. But the only one who can order him to Louisiana is Gov. Pataki." Slotnick added: “We argued late into the night that the warrant against Mr Dicks was not proper, not least because he is not guilty of committing any crime. We are very pleased that New York has decided not to extradite him.”

A lawyer representing the State of New York gave no reason for the warrant’s withdrawal but said that prosecutors would not be seeking Mr Dicks’s extradition. Judge Lopez confirmed that Dicks could travel back to Britain but must return to Queens for another hearing on September 28.

Meanwhile, the UK newspaper The Times claims it has information suggesting that Louisiana has a total of more than 50 warrants outstanding against executives from internet gambling companies that have clients who live within the state’s boundaries. These warrants will remain sealed unless, as happened in the case of Mr Dicks, an arrest is made.

The Times says that it believes that those targeted by the warrants include other Sportingbet directors, including Nigel Payne, the chief executive, and board members of companies including PartyGaming and 888 Holdings. John Anderson, the chief executive of 888, stepped down yesterday, although he denied the move was related to the US legal situation.

Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa

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