The saga of the kidnapping-turned-murder of William Sean Creighton, founder of the 5Dimes sportsbook, in 2018 is coming to a close. On Friday, a Costa Rica court handed down sentences to the nine perpetrators, among whom are two police officers.
The Criminal Court of the city of Goicoechea sentenced nine members of a gang that orchestrated the kidnapping of the American entrepreneur to a total of 515 years in prison. A tenth person was originally implicated, as well, but acquitted as the case made its way to court.
Creighton, known as Tony in the sports betting circles, remained missing even after the ransom was paid. His body was found the following year in a cemetery in the city of Quepos.
The judge convicted the criminals of kidnapping, extortion, aggravated robbery and illicit association. The leader of the organization, identified by his last names of Morales Vega, received a 65-year sentence.
His girlfriend, surnamed Solís Chaves, his mother, an uncle, his grandmother, a teacher and another man received similar sentences. A traffic police officer received a sentence of 35 years. Another officer is going away for 25 years.
Another of the defendants in this case, Kenny Jerry Ford Dowman, had an abbreviated trial and accepted the charges this past February. For his involvement, he received a sentence of 33 years in prison.
5Dimes was active at a time that online sports betting was taking off, and Creighton became an easy target. The gang organized the kidnapping with the intention of asking for $5 million as payment for his release.
Creighton was intercepted by the two police officers, who asked him to stop. Next, four subjects arrived in a rented pick-up and took him to a house in La Trinidad de Moravia. The kidnappers asked for the ransom, but those close to the victim only deposited about $950,800 in Bitcoin.
That was the last anyone knew of the whereabouts of Creighton. His body was found almost a year later, when the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ, for its Spanish acronym) confirmed that an exhumed body in the cemetery of Quepos belonged to the American.
Morales Vega, the leader of the criminal gang and a computer engineer, escaped the country by land to Panama. He then traveled to El Salvador and, from there, moved to Cuba.
Once on Cuban soil, he met up with his mother and his romantic partner. There, they stayed for just over a month and then traveled together to Spain. Law enforcement tracked them first to the municipality of Alicante and then to Zaragoza.
Spanish authorities arrested them on January 11, 2021, and seized at least €4,000 (US$4,224) in cash, cards used for cryptocurrency transactions, a ledger and electronic devices.
In this case, prosecutors showed that the group planned everything for more than a year. In addition to the illicit association, the court determined that there was enough evidence to support the charge of aggravated kidnapping resulting in death. As a result, the accused deserved the lengthy prison sentences.
5Dimes Carrying on the Legacy
Killers cut Creighton’s life short, but the 5Dimes legacy lives on. His widow, Laura Varela, took over the company, with some assistance, and is working to legitimize the sports betting platform.
Previously catering to US sports bettors, Varela brought that to an end in 2020 in order to appease regulators in the country. Last year, 5Dimes received a license in Isle of Man, which gave it access to a number of markets. It still hopes to enter the US, but will have to approach cautiously due to its history.
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