A former professional baseball player who went on to become a Federal prosecutor of the Mafia and is now a private attorney is hoping to hit a home run and keep his client, disgraced Internet bookie Haden Ware, out of prison when Ware is sentenced next month on a Federal gambling charge.
The attorney, James D. Henderson Sr., of Malibu, California, will be by Ware's side in Manhattan Federal Court in New York on May 9 when Judge James C. Francis IV decides how Ware, 40, will be punished for pleading guilty in January to illegally taking sports bets over the Internet in the late 1990s.
The judge has many options for punishment, including time in a Federal pen for Ware, house arrest, a fine, probation or community service, or some combination of these options.
Ware, a co-operator of the world's first online sports betting site, World Sports Exchange, was charged by the U.S. Justice Dept. along with 20 others in 1998 with operating illegal offshore Internet casinos and sportsbooks, in the first Federal prosecution of online gambling.
The charged became known as the "Internet 21" and most immediately turned themselves in, pled guilty and received fines and/or house arrest--none who pled got prison time.
Now Ware, who also turned himself in and pled guilty--but 18 years after everyone else--sweats it out as he waits to learn his fate.
Nobody else from the "Internet 21" who turned himself in got time behind bars, so that's a point in Ware's favor.
But the others all gave up immediately, they weren't fugitives for almost two decades hiding out first in Antigua and then in Germany, as Ware had, so that's a definite point against Ware and something likely to irk the judge.
That's where Ware's ball-playing, Mob-busting lawyer comes in.
Henderson isn't expecting any prison time for his client.
At least that's what the attorney told Gambling 911 in an exclusive, albeit brief, email interview.
In response to a question about reports in the media that Henderson was expecting Ware to be sentenced to between 6 and 12 months in prison, Henderson declared to Gambing 911: "I have never said to anyone that I expect Haden Ware to receive any jail time! Jim Henderson."
Among the questions Henderson refused to answer was whether a deal was made between Ware and the Feds for Ware to give up and plead in exchange for leniency.
Biographical information on Henderson's law firm's website reveals that he once played minor league baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization before becoming a Federal prosecutor who targeted Mafia figures as well as various embezzlers, fraudsters, hijackers, drug dealers, counterfeiters and, yes, illegal gambling operators.
Practicing law since 1987, Henderson, according to the website, specializes in several areas of legal defense, including criminal charges involving business fraud, liability and offshore gambling.
Now the former ball-playing Mob-buster hopes to get the judge to play ball and cut Ware a break.
It's the bottom of the ninth and Henderson is down to his last out.
Can he score and keep Ware from getting any time?
Or will he strike out and see Ware off to the slammer?
As usual in baseball, it will be up to umpire, in this case Judge Davis.
By Tom Somach
Gambling 911 Staff Writer