The Indictments: Six Men Have Pleaded Guilty
Government Still Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Others
U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara shocked the poker community by indicting 11 men associated with three major offshore poker sites. A year later, six of them have pleaded guilty in front of a federal judge, while five are still awaiting their day in court.
Only about a month after Black Friday, payment processor Bradley Franzen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, to accepting funds in connection with unlawful Internet gambling and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Franzen, who had originally pleaded not guilty after turning himself into the FBI on April 18, signed a plea deal.
Prosecutors would have to wait until the end of 2011 before Absolute Poker co-owner Brent Beckley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. According to Reuters, he told the federal judge, “I knew it was illegal to deceive the banks in this way.”
For the charge of tricking banks into processing the illegal Internet gambling transactions, Beckly was facing a maximum of 30 years in prison. He reportedly will spend 12-18 months behind bars.
Beckley’s accomplice Ira Rubin, who worked as a payment processor, struck a deal in January 2012. The plea agreement will likely see him serve less than two years in prison.
The DOJ also accused Rubin of tricking banks into accepting funds by disguising payments. He was facing a potential sentence of more than 80 years.
Rubin was arrested in Guatemala in late April before extradition to the U.S.
In late February, Ryan Lang pleaded guilty in federal court. He was charged with obtaining accounts at U.S. banks for the poker sites, lying about the nature of the financial transactions, and covering it up by creating phony corporations and websites.
After unsuccessfully using the Wire Act clarification to dismiss charges, John Campos and Chad Elie struck deals with prosecutors in late March less than two weeks before their trial was set to begin.
Elie faces six to 12 months in prison after admitting to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Campos pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
The star witness for the prosecution was set to be Daniel Tzvetkoff — the man believed to have played a important role in the government being able to build its case.
According to Forbes, the government will now go after the remaining indicted individuals: Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker and Scott Tom of Absolute Poker.
Along with the criminal charges, the government filed a $3 billion civil money laundering and forfeiture action against the companies and the defendants. The civil complaint was amended in September, alleging that Full Tilt Poker principals defrauded players out of more than $440 million.