It usually is not a good thing when the poker police blotter makes the news, and this time around isn’t any different. In one case, a former WPT champion will be headed to jail for some unethical behaviors in business. In another case, a casino bandit who apparently never saw Elliott Gould’s Reuben Tishkoff’s speech from Ocean’s 11 about stealing from the “house” was apprehended rather quickly after trying to make off with his heist.
WPT LAPC Champ Dennis Blieden Off to Jail for Embezzlement
Many might remember Dennis Blieden for his run to the title in one of the biggest events on the World Poker Tour schedule, the L. A. Poker Classic, back in 2018. What many did not know, however, is it is entirely possible that Blieden entered that tournament not with his own money but with money that he took from his employer at the time, StyleHaul. That came back to haunt him earlier this month.
Facing 14 counts of embezzlement of over $22 million from his employer at the time, Blieden threw himself on the mercy of the court and pled guilty to a singular charge of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. That was enough to get the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California to drop the other charges against him, but it was not enough for the judge to keep him out of jail. U. S. District Judge Andre Birotte, Jr., handed down a 79-month sentence against Blieden, slightly more than six and a half years in federal prison, and also ordered repayment of the more than $22 million ($22,669,979, to be exact) that Blieden absconded with as restitution to his victims.
In his sentencing documents Blieden admitted that, between October 2015 and March 2019, he was responsible for StyleHaul’s finances as the vice president of accounting and finance. Instead of StyleHaul’s clients sending their money to the company, they actually sent the money to Blieden’s personal bank accounts. Blieden also admitted to several other scams to keep these transactions hidden, including using the money for his gaming activities online and live and investing in property that was allegedly for StyleHaul’s clients.
The prosecution’s sentencing documents were merciless and probably was the reason behind Judge Birotte’s heavy sentence. “(Blieden) breached the trust and obligations owed to the young and perhaps unsophisticated YouTube, Instagram, and other social media influencers and creators, who earned money through their work on said platforms, that were needed to support their families,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “Those clients relied upon defendant to do his job (with StyleHaul), when instead, he stole millions (of dollars) from them.”
Casino “Bomber” Apprehended Quickly Following Robbery
In another case, 51-year-old Ronald Allison was arrested for armed robbery in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
According to police reports, Allison allegedly entered the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and went to the cage. He handed a note to the attendant that allegedly read, “Give me 10K purple or BOOM,” indicating that he had an explosive device on his person. The attendant quickly gave Allison what he wanted, ten of the Cosmopolitan’s $500 chips, while simultaneously hitting the “panic button” on their stand.
Video of Allison after the exchange allegedly showed him attempting to change his appearance. He put on a basketball jersey to hide what the casino attendant had seen him wearing. It didn’t work; while walking across a pedestrian bridge, Las Vegas’ Finest arrested Allison, finding the chips from the Cosmopolitan in his pockets and other “ransom notes” for other casinos in the Vegas area, along with a firearm, in a duffel bag that Allison was allegedly carrying.
Allison reportedly confessed to the robbery after being arrested, just the latest in a series of those who have tried to rob a Vegas casino and failed miserably. When will they listen to “Reuben?”