Continuance Ordered in Scott Tom Case for Ongoing Plea Negotiations
Presiding US Souther District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has ordered a continuance in the pre-trial events of former Absolute Poker CEO Scott Tom, allowing Tom’s defense attorney and USAO prosecutors additional time to reach agreement on a plea deal.
In an order signed on April 25th, Judge Kaplan continued the case against Tom, specifying that the interests of justice in the matter outweigh possible competing concerns. The order excludes a four-week period from being included in “speedy trial” calculations as required under federal law. The next hearing in the case now slated for 3:00 pm on May 22nd, 2017.
In the continuance order, Judge Kaplan wrote:
The court finds that the ends of justice served by granting a trial continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial, because it will permit the parties to continue ongoing plea discussions. Accordingly, it is further ordered that the time between April 25th, 2017 and May 22nd, 2017 is hereby excluded under the Speedy Trial Act,  in the interests of justice.
The slight delay comes despite a public statement issued earlier by Scott Tom’s defense attorney, James Henderson, in which Henderson declared that the case was likely to be quickly resolved via a plea deal. Tom surrendered to US authorities in February after being a fugitive from the US justice system for nearly six years.
Scott Tom, as the leading co-founder of Absolute Poker, was one of 11 individual defendants charged with multiple felonies in April 2011 as part of the US’s April, 2011 “Black Friday” crackdown against the largest US-facing poker sites. After spending most of the past six years very publicly on the Caribbean island of Antigua, Tom finally agreed to return to face the US charges in late February.
Tom’s step-brother, Brent Beckley, who was recruited into the company at a later date, also reached a plea deal with US authorities. Beckley received a 14-month in 2012 for his somewhat lesser in AP’s operations.
As for Scott Tom, he was named on three of the nine felony counts back in 2011:
- Conspiracy to Violate Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)
- Violation of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) -Absolute Poker
- Operation of Illegal Gambling Business -Absolute Poker
Tom evaded additional counts of money laundering conspiracy as brought against his step-brother Beckley and other Black Friday defendants in large part because the interactions between Absolute Poker and the US banking system more directly involved Beckley, who was assigned those responsibilities at AP.
Nonetheless, Scott Tom was the longtime head of Absolute Poker’s Costa Rica-based operations, in addition to being the primary culprit behind the insider-cheating scandal that rocked the site back in 2007. Tom will never face jail time or civil sanction in connection with the Absolute Poker cheating, though he does face a maximum five-year sentence on each of the three felony counts being debated under the ongoing plea-deal talks. Tom is also the 10th of the 11 individual Black Friday defendants to eventually answer to the US charges.
Tom also faces the likelihood of millions of dollars of fines, assuming any hidden assets associated with Tom from AP’s glory days can be identified for seizure or forfeiture.
Few other details about the current state of Tom’s case are available. The transcript of Tom’s late-February indictment hearing remain under court seal, but a redacted version of that transcript is scheduled to be released later this month.