Scales

A ‘Year and a Day’ Sentence for Helly Nahmad in NYC Gambling Ring Case

Presiding judge Jesse M. Furman has declined a plea for leniency and a proposal for a specialized form of community service for Hillel Nahmad, a world-famous art dealer and one of 34 defendants indicted as part of a New York City gambling ring that US authorities asserted operated under the protection of at least one Russian organized-crime figure.  “Helly” Nahmad, part of the prominent Nahmad family of international art dealers, received a sentence of a year and a day, in addition to civil forfeitures in excess of $6 million previously agreed to as part of his plea deal in the case.

Nahmad and Illya Trincher, son of Vadim Trincher, another of the case’s defendants, were alleged to be the leaders of a secondary sportsbetting operation through which most of the case’s gambling activities were conducted.  Tens of millions of dollars of bets were allegedly processed through HMSSports.com and other online sites, in additional to live bookmaking operations and other forms of gambling illegal under New York law.

scales-justiceBoth Illya and Vadim Trincher, along with another son of Vadim’s, Eugene, also pled guilty in the case.  Father Vadim, one of the most notable among the dozen or so defendants in the case with prominent poker-world connections, was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison for his organizational role in the operation, which included three interconnected “organizations” (as described by prosecutors) involved in the operation.  Trincher’s sons Illya and Eugene have yet to be sentenced in the case.

As for Helly Nehmad, he was perhaps the most high-profile of all the case’s defendants in of a mainstream sense, with the possible exception of “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom, who received probation in her own case regarding the operation of poker games run as part of the group’s gambling offerings.  Nahmad’s case was intriguing because of the dual life exposed by prosecutors, pairing the hard-working and civic-minded Nahmad’s public image against wiretap submissions showing a character not quite so stellar.

As noted a week ago, in our previous look at the Nahmad case and charges, prosecutors sought a 12-to-18 month sentence, and Furman’s decisionn came in on the bottom end of that range.  Nahmad’s sentence was handed down on a single “illegal gambling” count, with five other charges dismissed as part of the plea deal.  Nahmad also forfeited $6.437 million and a French post-Impression painting valued at $200,000 to $250,000 which figured directly into one of the dismissed charges, which included money-laundering conspiracy and racketeering.

One of the interesting developments in the Nahmad sentencing was a defense proposal that if Nahmad was given probation, he would use $100,000 per year — something of a pittance compared to the Nahmad family’s global fortune — to continue the funding of a non-profit program designed to bring an awareness of art to schoolchildren.  Judge Furman chose not to buy into the concept, even though Nahmad will still have to perform another 300 hours of community service when his jail time is complete.

Nahmad’s defense also included a massive assemblage of character-witness testimony from a cross section of respected New York City society.  The 61 character witnesses who offered written references included family members, fellow art dealers, employees, community leaders, rabbis, university art professors, museum curators and others.  The impressive display didn’t get Nahmad the desired probation, though it may have had a role in Nahmad’s receiving a sentence at the minimum end of the guidelines scale.

The US Attorneys Office of the Southern District of New York announced the sentence with a press release, as it has done with some of the other prominent defendants in the case.  A quote attributed to SDNY lead attorney Preet Bharara states, with a lame pun typical of many SDNY releases, “For art gallery owner Helly Nahmad, running a multimillion-dollar illegal sports gambling business came with a steep price, forfeiture of over $6 million and time behind bars – a punishment he likely never pictured.”

Nahmad is scheduled to report to corrections officers on June 16th, and will likely serve his term in a minimum-security federal prison camp in downstate New York.

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