02/07/2005 1:00AM

Dakota rebater must forfeit $19 million


Susan Bala, the former owner of the defunct North Dakota rebate shop Racing Services Inc., was ordered by a jury Monday to forfeit $19 million in personal income from the company as a result of a conviction on 12 charges of running an illegal gambling operation, according to federal prosecutors.

Bala, 50, was found guilty on Friday after a 2 1/2-week trial. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson set April 29 as a sentencing date for Bala after the jurors concluded their deliberations on asset forfeitures.

Racing Services was ordered by the jury to forfeit $99 million. Prosecutors alleged that the company took in $99 million in bets during an eight-month period in 2002 and 2003 through an illegal location in the state. The bets were not reported to the state, and the operation was not connected to a charity, in violation of state law, the jury concluded.

Bala's attorney, Mark Beauchene, did not return a phone call on Monday.

Of the $19 million ordered to be forfeited by Bala, Wrigley said that the jury ordered her to forfeit $7 million in income from Racing Services and an additional $12 million in rebates that the company had awarded to gamblers.

"The jury obviously realized that the rebating dollars were part and parcel of the illegal operation, that they were used to grease the wheels, so to speak," Wrigley said.