June 29, 2007 / 8:59 PM / 12 years ago

NETeller founder pleads guilty in gambling case

(Adds details, background)

NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) - A founder of payment processor NETeller Plc NLR.L pleaded guilty on Friday to a conspiracy charge over the handling of billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds.

Stephen Lawrence, 47, during a hearing before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel in Manhattan, also agreed to cooperate with the government.

Lawrence faces a maximum sentence of five years on the conspiracy charge for his role in the operation of the payment processor.

Lawrence and co-founder John Lefebvre, who started the company in 1999, were first charged in January with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling.

NETeller quit the United States in January, abandoning two-thirds of its business after authorities arrested the two founders.

“Mr. Lawrence is very glad to have this episode over and looks forward to moving on to the next stage of his life,” attorney Peter Neiman said after the hearing.

Castel allowed Lawrence to travel within the United States as well as to Canada and the Bahamas. He set a sentencing date for Oct. 29.

((Reporting by Paritosh Bansal; writing by Emily Chasan, editing by Andre Grenon; Reuters Messaging: rm://emily.chasan.reuters.com@reuters.net +1 646 223 6114)) Keywords: NETELLER FOUNDER/

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