By Earl Burton -
In what has been a heavily watched case in both the poker world and the mainstream media, some of the final sentences have been handed down in the 2013 federal indictment of an alleged Russian gambling ring. Two men who were sentenced on Wednesday, Anatoly Golubchik and poker professional Vadim Trincher, will each serve five year prison sentences for their roles in the case that prosecutors allege laundered over $100 million through poker and sports betting. Another member of the American team, art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, was also sentenced to a year in prison and forfeited over $6.5 million in money and property.
In announcing the sentencing for Golubchik and Trincher, Southern District of New York U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “The sentences meted out to Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher are just and appropriate penalties for the roles the defendants played in this far-reaching, Russian-American organized crime ring. I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service for their tireless efforts in working to ensure that the members of this underground enterprise were held to account for their crimes.”
In addition to their prison terms, both Golubchik and Trincher will also forfeit $20 million each in cash, property and investments.
The federal government spelled out the involvement of Golubchik and Trincher during their sentencing. Between 2006 and 2012, the feds stated that Golubchik and Trincher were the American end of a $100 million gambling and poker operation that saw money flow around the globe. In total, 34 people were arrested in the massive indictment and, save for one, all have entered guilty pleas.
There were several notable names from the poker world that were a part of the case. Two of those men, William “Bill” Edler and Peter Feldman, have entered into deferred prosecution agreements last month that will keep them out of jail. A deferred prosecution agreement is one in which those involved offer to meet certain requirements with the prosecutors in exchange for amnesty from the charges they face. If Edler and Feldman meet those requirements (including fines and cooperation with the prosecution in providing evidence, among other things), then the charges of unlawful gambling that they face will be dismissed.
John Jarecki, known to the poker community as “John Hanson,” and Abe Mosseri have pled guilty to making fraudulent tax statements, failing to file tax returns and causing a financial institution to participate in a lottery in January of this year. They are still awaiting sentencing for their roles in the case, which will be handed out at the end of this month.
Another poker professional, Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, was spared any jail time in a plea deal he reached in late 2013. Charged with aiding an illegal sports gambling business, Smith could have received up to five years in prison for his actions. In his plea deal, however, Smith was able to garner a lesser sentence of two years of probation and another 200 hours of community service on top of that.
The only female charged in the case, Molly “The Poker Princess” Bloom, also pled guilty to gambling charges for her role as an organizer for illegal home games. She issued her guilty plea in December of last year and received a year of probation, a $1000 fine and 200 hours of community service on Friday. U. S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that prison was “too harsh” a sentence for Bloom, whom he determined had a minor role in the case.
In total, the 33 people that have reached plea deals have agreed to forfeit to the U. S. government a total of $68 million.
The only person involved with the case that has yet to even be apprehended will probably never see the inside of a U. S. courtroom. Alimzhan ‘Taiwanchik’ Tokhtakhounov, an alleged Russian organized crime syndicate leader, was allegedly the Russian end of the “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization” (called such by federal prosecutors) and received millions from that group. One of Interpol’s most wanted fugitives, Tokhtakhounov is reportedly living in the open in Moscow, which has no extradition agreement with either Interpol or the United States, where he also faces charges of bribery at the 2002 Winter Olympics along with his role in this case.