Several Poker Pros Among Indicted In Federal Case Against Russian Organized Crime
Nearly two years to the day after torpedoing the online poker industry, the same lawyer who pushed those indictments has announced another round of litigation, this time targeting several poker professionals who are alleged to be a part of a massive scheme.
Earlier this week, the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, unsealed an indictment against 34 people in federal court in New York. In that indictment, such charges as racketeering, extortion, money laundering and illegal gambling was alleged against the individuals. What was surprising to many, however, was the mention in the indictment that it was all a part of a massive operation being run by the Russian mob.
In that 84 page indictment, the U. S Attorney’s office alleges that three men were the “main leaders” of the operation. One is Alimzhan Tokhakhounov, who is alleged to be a “powerful figure in the former Soviet Union organized crime,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s Reed Albergotti. The alleged ringleader of the total operation is Anatoly Golubchik, but the third person named prominently in the indictment is one of the top professionals in the poker world.
Vadim Trincher is named as the third power player in the gambling ring, alleged by the indictment to have operated the sports betting side of the business. According to Albergotti, this side of the business catered to wealthy individuals that live in the Ukraine and Russia. Through the indictment, federal officials detail out the operations as they allegedly happened.
Trincher, along with another man indicted in the case, Helly Nahmad (the son of a billionaire art dealer and an operator of an art gallery himself), are accused of laundering the money for the entire operation. Using bank accounts and shell companies in Cyprus, the duo are accused of then pushing the funds through banking outlets in both the United States and Russia. Trincher was apprehended on Tuesday morning as he slept in his condominium at the Trump Tower in New York (Nahmad was arrested in Los Angeles later that same day) and further details emerged as to his predicament.
Prosecutors informed the judge that Trincher was responsible for the movement of almost $50 million as a part of the operation and that, during the raid on his condo, that $75,000 in cash and $2 million in poker chips from the Bellagio in Las Vegas were found on the premises. With a dual citizenship in both the U. S. and in Israel, prosecutors argued for Trincher to be held without bail as he could be considered a flight risk. He is expected to remain in custody at least until tomorrow, when another hearing will be held to determine his fate.
Several other poker pros are also under indictment in the case. Bill Edler, Peter ‘nordberg’ Feldman, John Hanson, Justin ‘BoostedJ’ Smith and Abe Mosseri are currently being sought for their involvement in the ring. All five gentlemen are accused of being a part of the sports betting operation and their resumes in the tournament poker world are solid. Between the men, they have earned two World Series of Poker bracelets, two World Poker Tour titles, two WSOP Circuit rings and almost $10 million in career earnings.
Another familiar name to the poker world is also a part of the indictment list. Molly Bloom, the “Poker Princess” and sister of former Olympian Jeremy Bloom, is not known for her play on the felt but for her ability to arrange high stakes poker games for almost a decade that ranged across the country. Those games featured actors, athletes and businessmen and brought her a great deal of notoriety (so much, in fact, a book is supposed to be due out from her come next summer) up until 2011. According to the indictment, her part in the conspiracy was in organizing these games and the money that flowed through them.
The poker world has naturally been stunned by the announcement of the indictment and the accusations against the respected poker players. Doyle Brunson stated on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, “These indictments are a joke. Pretty soon they will arrest us for playing poker,” and included a hash tag in support of Mosseri. Outrage over the pursuit of this case, especially in light of the occurrences in Boston and Washington D. C. of more serious crimes earlier this week, has also been thundering across the internet.
As the poker community painfully recalls, it was Bharara who was behind the “Black Friday” indictments of 2011 that basically ended online poker in the United States (save for a few operations that have managed to avoid the eye of the Department of Justice). After getting nearly all of those indicted in that case to plead guilty to money laundering and gambling charges (only three men are currently at large and are unlikely to be apprehended) and pay fines that totaled into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Bharara obviously hasn’t taken his eye off the poker world.
Want the latest poker news in your twitter feed? Follow PokerNewsDaily on Twitter.