Firefighting Bookie Pleads Guilty to Bookmaking

A retired Los Angeles County firefighter pleaded guilty today to running an illegal sports gambling business that authorities said operated in part from a firehouse while he was on duty.

Retired fire Capt. Tod Hipsher, 51, entered the plea in federal court in Santa Ana. He will be sentenced on June 2 and is looking at a maximum of five years in prison.

The investigation of Hipsher began in 2009 following a tip from the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Hipsher’s clients had the option of betting online or using a 1-800 number, prosecutors said.

In 2011, undercover agents met at least twice with Hipsher at a fire station in Bell to conduct gambling business, said Mark Speidel, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s homeland security investigations. Hipsher’s home was searched in March 2013, and $200,000 in cash was seized during the raid.

Another Orange County man, Hipsher’s partner in the business, has pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling business on another site and will be sentenced later this year.

Hipsher told authorities he made between $200,000 and $300,000 during the past few years. Hipsher and federal authorities reached a plea agreement in October but he did not plead guilty in court until Monday. The delay allowed his client to retire at the end of last year.