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Bala begins prison stay

Convicted Fargo businesswoman Susan Bala reported to prison Friday after a federal appeals court denied her motion for a stay of sentence pending her appeal, her attorney said.

Convicted Fargo businesswoman Susan Bala reported to prison Friday after a federal appeals court denied her motion for a stay of sentence pending her appeal, her attorney said.

Bala, the president and founder of simulcast service provider Racing Services Inc., was sentenced to 27 months in prison in July after a jury found her guilty of running an unlicensed betting site in south Fargo.

Prosecutors said the site took in more than $99 million in bets from October 2002 to April 2003 without paying state taxes or a charity as required by state law.

Bala was to report to a minimum security facility in Pekin., Ill., by 2 p.m. Friday.

She will continue to pursue an appeal filed with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said her lawyer, Mark Beauchene.

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BALA JUMP A10

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson denied Bala's motion for a new trial. Bala claimed she had newly discovered evidence that showed she didn't intend to operate an illegal gambling site.

Beauchene said the motion for a new trial was "a real limited slice of the case." The appeal filed with the 8th Circuit "is based on any and all matters related to the trial," he added.

Meanwhile, former RSI Chief Financial Officer Gary Storm was sentenced to two years of probation and a $100 special assessment for his role in the illegal betting operation.

Court documents show Storm entered into a cooperation agreement with the government on Dec. 10, 2003. A grand jury indictment against Bala, RSI, former RSI Vice President Raymundo Diaz Jr. and his company, Global Contact Inc., was made public a week later.

Storm agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conducting an illegal gambling business in exchange for a lighter sentence. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment.

Storm, of Forest Lake, Minn., paid the $100 assessment with a check on Sept. 14, the day of his sentencing.

During the trial of Bala and RSI, Storm testified that he had concerns about the Global Contact site, but that he never told Bala about them. Storm said he'd already decided to leave RSI at that time and "didn't want to deal with it."

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Storm does not have a listed phone number.

In a letter to Erickson, Storm's wife, Jane Storm, wrote that her husband "has paid dearly financially and emotionally for 13 months of employment at a company, in an industry, he knew nothing about."

"I feel Gary clearly was in the wrong place at the wrong time," she wrote."

Diaz also pleaded guilty to three felony charges and testified against Bala, his former girlfriend, in exchange for a lighter sentence. He was sentenced to 90 days at a Fargo halfway house, 60 days of electronic home monitoring, two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

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