BOSTON (WWLP) – A Melrose man was sentenced to jail in connection with a large-scale illegal gambling operation.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, 59-year-old Lonnie Hillson pleaded guilty to Organizing and Promoting Gambling, Registration of Bets, Use of the Phone for Gambling, Conspiracy to Register Bets, and Attempted Extortion. He was sentenced to serve one year in the House of Correction with three years of probation running concurrently with the committed sentence.

A search warrant was conducted at more than eight residences, two businesses, five vehicles, and almost a dozen bank accounts, where investigators recovered betting slips, gaming ledgers, paperwork related to illegal gaming, parlay cards, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

Hillson was indicted in December 2018 following an investigation into organized crime related to illegal gambling and money laundering. Authorities also charged ten other individuals as part of the operation including Hillson’s father and his mother.

The Hillsons were operating the illegal gambling operation out of their Melrose homes. They took illegal bets exclusively over the phone, while other individuals assisted them in attempting to extort money from an undercover Massachusetts State Police Trooper who had infiltrated the illegal gambling organization, stated the AG’s Office.

“This defendant ran an illegal and predatory criminal enterprise that pushed bettors into debt and tried to extort an undercover officer for money,” AG Healey said. “We are grateful to our partners in law enforcement for their assistance in bringing this defendant to justice and shutting down this operation.” 

“The target of this investigation ran a venture that violated numerous laws and profited by driving gamblers further into debt, exacerbating their destructive behavior,” Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said. “I thank Attorney General Healey for her oversight of this effort and commend the work of several of our units that historically have interdicted predatory gambling enterprises, our statewide Special Services Section, the Gaming Enforcement Unit within the Attorney General’s State Police Detective Unit, and our Technical Services Unit. I am grateful to those Troopers and all the other partner units and agencies for their contributions to this successful case.”