Scales

Five More Guilty Pleas in Taiwanchik-Trincher SDNY Sportsbetting and Poker Prosecutions

scales-justiceThe US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has announced five more plea deals in the case of US v. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, et al.  The case against Tokhtakhhounov and 33 other defendants, including several prominent poker figures, includes allegations of three separate but interconnected gambling and money laundering rings with alleged ties to Russian organized crime.

The latest deals in the case involve New York City banker Ronald Uy, charged with helping launder proceeds from the gambling ring’s illicit operation, which included high-stakes sportsbetting operations both live and online, and nosebleed poker games run on both US coasts, including exclusive games that frequently occurred in WPT event winner Vadim Trncher’s Trump Towers apartment.

Trincher who already pled guilty in the case, was alleged to be one of the ringleaders of the operation, reporting directly to international crime boss Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov.  Tokhtakhounov remains a fugitive from US law, as he has been since 2002.

As for Uy, a branch manager at a Manhattan bank, he was accused of working directly with Vadim Trincher’s son Illya Trincher to help conceal and launder proceeds of the illegal gambling operations, primarily from sportsbetting.  According to a recent SDNY release, “Uy assisted Illya Trincher on several occasions in structuring deposits at the Bank so as to avoid triggering reporting requirements at the bank.”

US Attorney Preet Bharara offered this quote: “Ronald Uy consorted with Illya Trincher, a leader of a high-stakes gambling operation with ties to Russian-American organized crime, and broke the law when he aided Trincher in concealing the enterprise’s ill-gotten gains. But thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, Uy, like the 18 others before him, has admitted his guilt and now stands convicted.”

Uy faces a maximum five-year prison sentence, plus three years of supervised release.  He will be sentenced in March, 2014.

Four more plea deals were announced by the SDNY office in recent days, for Noah Siegel, Moshe Oratz, Jonathan Hirsch, and Michael Sall.  Siegel has a couple of significant poker tourney results of between $70,000 and $100,000 (2006 WSOP, 2008 EPT), but is not considered one of the major “poker” defendants in the case.

Oratz also has played in a few poker events, while Sall, a gambler of many persuasions, is most famously known as the prop bettor who lost $100,000 to fellow gambler Brian Zembic, in the crazed bet wherein Zembic agreed to have breast implant surgery, wearing the implants for a year.

Sall, 68, a Florida resident, was alleged to have assisted Vadim Trincher and fellow ringleader Anatoly Golubchik in aiding in the laundering of the sportsbetting ring’s operation, “invest[ing] the proceeds of their illegal international gambling activities into various domestic investments.”  Sall forfeited $1.3 million and like Uy, faces a possible five-year prison sentence and three years of supervised release.

Siegel, Oratz and Hirsch were involved in lower-level operations.  Siegel was alleged to be a partner of Trincher and billionaire art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nehmad, working essentially as a sharp and helping with the making and placing of bets.  Oratz assisted one of the Trincher-Nehmad sportsbetting operations by creating and operating accounts at onlie sportsbooks.  Hirsch also worked within the Trincher-Nehamd sphere, as a bookkeeper and accountant for the ring.

All three of them faced lesser forfeitures, when compared against the nearly $70 million forfeited by other defendants who have reached plea deals to date.  Siegel agreed to forfeit $400,000, Oratz $320,000, and Hirsch $80,600.  All three face possible sentences of two years in prison plus one year of supervised release when sentenced next April.

All told, the five latest deals mean that 23 of the 33 arraigned defendants in the case have now pled out, with the 34th defendant, international crime boss Tokhtakhounov, still outside US jurisdiction.  The 10 remaining arraigned defendants who have yet to reach a deal with prosecutors or to commit fully to the trial process include several with prominent poker ties, including Abe Mosseri, John Hanson, Bill Edler and Peter Feldman.

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