Edwin Ting to Plead Guilty to Single Gambling Business Count in Tokhtakhounov – Trincher Case

scales-justiceEdwin Ting, a in the case of US v. Tokhtakhounov, the crackdown by New York authorities against a high-stakes sportsbetting and poker ring centered on former WPT winner Vadim Trincher will plead guilty on September 4th to a single count of operating an illegal gambling business under New York law.

The charge for which Ting will plead guilty was for assisting in the running of the poker games held in elite New York-area locations, including Trincher’s swanky Trump Towers high-rise apartment.  The games featured an A-list of pro poker players, sports and business celebrities, and wealthy businessmen.

The indictments allege that the games were operated under the control of the Russian mob, with Trincher and other US-based leaders of three separate sportsbetting and poker rings directly linked to Alimzhan “Taiwankchik” Tokhtakhounov, and international fugitive on arms-smuggling charges who is most famously connected for an attempt to fix a figure skating in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Ting, who faced a possible five-year sentence but will likely receive either a short term or probation, is the fourth of 34 defendants to reach a deal with prosecutors in recent weeks.  A piece published by the New York Daily News asserts that both Ting and prominent pro Justin Smith, a/k/a “BooostedJ”, will also plead guilty on September 4th, but a check of online court dockets for the case both yesterday and today show only documents connected to Ting’s plea.

Ting has a little under $100,000 in career poker tournament earnings from several cashes in East Coast tourneys.  Ting’s plea follows those of fellow defendants Bryan Zuriff, Kirill Rapoport and William Barbalot in the past two weeks.

In an unusual poker-related twist, the letter from the DOJ’s Eastern District of New York office, headed by well-known prosecutor Preet Bharara, cites another recent New York poker case in its explanation of Ting’s guilt.

Wrote assistant USAO attorneys Joshua Naftalis and Harris Fischman, who filed the brief advising presiding Judge Jesse M. Furman of the plea deal:

Pursuant to New York Penal Law § 225.00, the ‘unlawful gambling activity’ referenced above is the operation of an illegal poker game. See also United States v. DiCristina … (2d Cir. Aug. 6, 2013) (“New York State courts have long held that poker contains a sufficient element of chance to constitute gambling under that state’s laws.”)

Ting’s attorney, Eric Franz, had previously filed a motion for a hearing on Ting’s behalf to allow Ting a bail modification to visit nearby casinos and play poker, and to otherwise participate in a pending fantasy football league “which operates in a lawful manner.”

Ting had been free on $500,000 bond, but was limited by bail conditions that prevented him from any form of gambling, in addition to being restricted to the greater New York City / New Jersey area, surrendering travel documents, and being subject to pre-trial drug testing.  Ting was previously allowed to gamble in Las Vegas when approved for a trip there earlier this summer.

Ting’s deal represents another checkmark in the “win” column for EDNY prosecutors, who have aggressively targeted poker along with other forms of gambling in recent years, and have lodged a formidable record in gambling-related prosecutions.

Whether the NY Daily News assertions regarding fellow defendant BoostedJ are true — and a fifth plea deal will soon be announced — remain to be seen.  The salacious NYDN report included several sleazy gambling shots, from “You got to know when to fold ’em” and “gambling goons” to a reference to “poker princess” Molly Bloom, another of the defendants charged with operating the Russian mob-protected poker games, along with a photo attached to the latest report captioned as “Edward” Ting.  Until such time as the Smith deal shows up in the case’s dockets, that part of the story remains uncertain.


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