Justin Smith, Poker’s BoostedJ, Gets Home Confinement, Community Service in Sportsbetting Case
by Haley Hintze on Thursday 9th January 16:11 UTC

scales-justiceThe prosecution of prominent online poker pro Justin Smith for his minor role in a large New York City-based sportsbetting and gambling ring with ties to alleged Russian mobsters has concluded with Smith receiving extended probation, including home monitoring and community service.

In the sentencing hearing on Monday for Smith, well known as “BoostedJ” in the poker community, presiding judge Jesse M. Furman sentenced Smith to two years probation, but with the special condition of an initial three-month period of home confinement, typically but not necessarily monitored by electronic ankle bracelet.  Smith was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service following the completion of his home confinement term.  Smith had previously agreed to pay a fine of $500,000 as part of his sentencing.  It is believed Smith will serve his home confinement in his LA-area residence.

Smith’s sentence also includes a couple of very typical added conditions, such as a prohibition on firearms and submission for DNA testing, and represents a slight down tick from what had been requested by the office of lead SDNY Preet Bharara, which had sought a sentence of six to 12 months.  Smith may have posted a cryptic Twitter comment referring to the probation he received when he wrote, on Wednesday, “Was granted the birthday wish I was hoping for.”

According to the case’s sentencing memorandum, Smith assisted with the online sportsbetting operation by creating numerous online accounts for the ring’s leaders, including Illya Trincher and Hillel “Helly” Nehmad, including several at the now-defunct HMS Sports, along with one or more at PinnacleSports.  Smith moved six-figure sums for both sportsbetting and poker through several of these accounts.  The memorandum, which includes redacted but length conversations obtained by wiretap, includes mention of an account owned by fellow defendant and poker pro Abe Mosseri that was also used by Smith, plus a so-called “Mexican account” that was operated jointly by Smith and Illya Trincher.

The judgment is one of the first in the extended case of U.S. v Tokhtakhounov et al, in which 34 defendants were charged with various roles in the operation of a prominent sportsbetting and gambling ring.  Prominent members included at-large, indicted Russian arms dealer Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov, former WPT event winner Vadim Trincher and prominent New York art dealer Nehmad.  All told, the ring is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds through its live and online operations.

Smith was charged with three relatively small offenses as one of the case’s 34 defendants, originally facing charges of participating in an illegal sports gambling business, the transmission of sports wagering information (a Wire Act violation), and the acceptance of a financial instrument for unlawful internet gambling.  Smith, who allegedly acepted and placed bets on behalf of his friends and himself through online sites maintained by the gambling ring’s bosses, eventually pled guilty to a single count, the illegal sports gambling business charge, with the other two counts being dismissed.

Smith was believed to have cooperated with authorities following his April 2013 arrest and reached an agreement with prosecutors in August, entering a formal guilty plea soon after.  BoostedJ becomes the first of the case’s ten or so defendants with prominent poker connections to be formally sentenced, and his term may be an indicator of what likely awaits co-defendants such as fellow poker pros Bill Edler and Peter “Nordberg” Feldman, who were charged with the same three sportsbetting counts.  Neither Edler nor Feldman has yet to agree to a plea deal with DOJ Southern District of New York prosecutors.

Smith, a prominent cash-game pro who has also notched over $2.1 in career tournament earnings, is one of 24 defendants in the case who have reached deals to date.  Another of the early-pleading defendants, Edwin Ting, was also scheduled for a sentencing hearing this week.  Ting’s hearing, however, was pushed back to January 21st due to a scheduling conflict with the SDNY prosecutor dealing specifically with Ting’s case and charges.

Leave a Comment


5 × three =


Twitter Facebook Google+
Haley Hintze

Contributing Editor

FlushDraw’s Contributing Editor, Haley Hintze, is a poker industry veteran with 25 years of general writing and editing experience and a poker focus for the last decade. Hintze’s no-holds-barred approach to poker reporting and her entertaining, often controversial style define her thousands of published poker credits, with her willingness to write the tough stories the hallmark of her approach. Hintze’s prior poker credits include a stint as the Editor-in-Chief of PokerNews.com, and the general recognition as the leading independent investigator into the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet onliine poker scandals, the twin subjects of an in-progress book.

Historic Overlay at Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open

A glut of competition amid a busy Labor Day stretch for US casino-based poker tournaments has led to what might be the largest overlay on record, of more than $2.5 million in the 2014 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) main event. The 2014 [...]

Plea Deal Reached in Colorado Sports Betting Case

Federal prosecutors operating out of the United States Attorneys Office for the State of Colorado have announced that a plea deal has been reached in the case of a multi-state sportsbetting operation run from 2006 to 2013 by Kerwin Sande.  Sande, [...]

Massachusetts Casinos to be Reconsidered in...

The future of casino gambling and entertainment in one of the most populous of the United States’ northeast states remains up in the air, with voters in Massachusetts set to go to the polls in November to reconsider the state’s 2011 [...]

Bwinparty Online Poker Revenue Dips

Executives for Gibraltar-based bwin.party have announced an ongoing series of cost-cutting measures designed to reverse the company’s indifferent economic results, following the release on Friday of the firm’s first-half financial [...]

Politicians Launch Attacks on Possible New Jersey...

US-based poker players enthused by the prospect of a formally approved return by PokerStars to the fledgling United States online poker market, following the purchase of Stars’ parent company by Canada-based Amaya Gaming, may be wondering how [...]

Plea Deal Reached in Colorado Sports...
Federal prosecutors operating out of the United States Attorneys Office for the State of Colorado have announced that a plea deal has been reached in [...]

Bwinparty Online Poker Revenue Dips
Executives for Gibraltar-based bwin.party have announced an ongoing series of cost-cutting measures designed to reverse the company’s [...]

Politicians Launch Attacks on Possible...
US-based poker players enthused by the prospect of a formally approved return by PokerStars to the fledgling United States online poker market, [...]

Assemblyman Promises to Resurrect...
The online poker bills in California may be dead for this year, but following the pattern over the last several years, they will be back. State [...]

Justin Smith, Poker’s BoostedJ, Gets Home Confinement, Community Service in Sportsbetting Case

scales-justiceThe prosecution of prominent online poker pro Justin Smith for his minor role in a large New York City-based sportsbetting and gambling ring with ties to alleged Russian mobsters has concluded with Smith receiving extended probation, including home monitoring and community service.

In the sentencing hearing on Monday for Smith, well known as “BoostedJ” in the poker community, presiding judge Jesse M. Furman sentenced Smith to two years probation, but with the special condition of an initial three-month period of home confinement, typically but not necessarily monitored by electronic ankle bracelet.  Smith was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service following the completion of his home confinement term.  Smith had previously agreed to pay a fine of $500,000 as part of his sentencing.  It is believed Smith will serve his home confinement in his LA-area residence.

Smith’s sentence also includes a couple of very typical added conditions, such as a prohibition on firearms and submission for DNA testing, and represents a slight down tick from what had been requested by the office of lead SDNY Preet Bharara, which had sought a sentence of six to 12 months.  Smith may have posted a cryptic Twitter comment referring to the probation he received when he wrote, on Wednesday, “Was granted the birthday wish I was hoping for.”

According to the case’s sentencing memorandum, Smith assisted with the online sportsbetting operation by creating numerous online accounts for the ring’s leaders, including Illya Trincher and Hillel “Helly” Nehmad, including several at the now-defunct HMS Sports, along with one or more at PinnacleSports.  Smith moved six-figure sums for both sportsbetting and poker through several of these accounts.  The memorandum, which includes redacted but length conversations obtained by wiretap, includes mention of an account owned by fellow defendant and poker pro Abe Mosseri that was also used by Smith, plus a so-called “Mexican account” that was operated jointly by Smith and Illya Trincher.

The judgment is one of the first in the extended case of U.S. v Tokhtakhounov et al, in which 34 defendants were charged with various roles in the operation of a prominent sportsbetting and gambling ring.  Prominent members included at-large, indicted Russian arms dealer Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov, former WPT event winner Vadim Trincher and prominent New York art dealer Nehmad.  All told, the ring is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds through its live and online operations.

Smith was charged with three relatively small offenses as one of the case’s 34 defendants, originally facing charges of participating in an illegal sports gambling business, the transmission of sports wagering information (a Wire Act violation), and the acceptance of a financial instrument for unlawful internet gambling.  Smith, who allegedly acepted and placed bets on behalf of his friends and himself through online sites maintained by the gambling ring’s bosses, eventually pled guilty to a single count, the illegal sports gambling business charge, with the other two counts being dismissed.

Smith was believed to have cooperated with authorities following his April 2013 arrest and reached an agreement with prosecutors in August, entering a formal guilty plea soon after.  BoostedJ becomes the first of the case’s ten or so defendants with prominent poker connections to be formally sentenced, and his term may be an indicator of what likely awaits co-defendants such as fellow poker pros Bill Edler and Peter “Nordberg” Feldman, who were charged with the same three sportsbetting counts.  Neither Edler nor Feldman has yet to agree to a plea deal with DOJ Southern District of New York prosecutors.

Smith, a prominent cash-game pro who has also notched over $2.1 in career tournament earnings, is one of 24 defendants in the case who have reached deals to date.  Another of the early-pleading defendants, Edwin Ting, was also scheduled for a sentencing hearing this week.  Ting’s hearing, however, was pushed back to January 21st due to a scheduling conflict with the SDNY prosecutor dealing specifically with Ting’s case and charges.