A grand jury in Nebraska indicted a Council Bluffs, Iowa, gambler Monday on suspicion of filing false tax returns for allegedly underreporting his earnings from being a bookie for an online, off-shore gambling operation.

Tony Merksick reported $163,249 in gross receipts on his 2012 taxes rather than the $501,072 he should have reported; and $150,957 rather than $233,520 on his 2013 taxes, according to court records.

In them, Derick Tarr, a special agent with the IRS' criminal investigation unit, said Merksick told investigators he created TJM Enterprises Inc. 10 years ago for reporting his professional gambling earnings and expenses for income tax purposes and to be able to get personal loans and buy assets.

But, Tarr said, the investigation revealed Merksick actually was operating as a bookmaker for an online gambling operation that used servers in Costa Rica.

As a bookie, Merksick took bets, paid out winnings and collected gambling losses from clients and profited by setting the odds for all the wagers he collected, the special agent said.

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Tarr alleged that Merksick used other bank accounts he had access to in order to deposit unreported gross receipts.

He said Merksick also failed to report the majority of cash gross receipts he received from his operation and was believed to have kept large sums of cash on hand.

Tarr said the investigation identified "runners," people who collected gambling debts and paid wins for Merksick, who said they collected several thousand dollars weekly.

He hasn't yet appeared on the indictment, which came down Monday.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.


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