Absolute Poker Scott Tom

Scott Tom Reported to be Fined $300,000 in Black Friday Plea Deal

Here’s an interesting add-on to the long-running “Black Friday” saga: A report published over at CalvinAyre.com stating that former Absolute Poker president Scott Tom will be fined $300,000 and will likely receive a sentence of no more than six months (and possibly no additional jail time at all) for the single felony count to which he pled guilty in late May.

The plea-deal transcript officially remains under a blanket redaction order in the US’s online court-records system, although it is viewable in person should one travel to the US Eastern District of New York court offices. That transcript is likely, in this writer’s opinion, to confirm the details as reported by CA. The $300,000 fine is unfortunately in an appropriate range for the single offense to which Tom pled guilty.

According to CA’s Steven Stradbrooke:

Tom’s misdemeanor calls for a maximum term of imprisonment of one year followed by another year of supervised probation. However, the plea agreement allows for a “two-level reduction” in the base offense level of Tom’s crimes if his allocution and subsequent conduct prior to sentencing demonstrates his “acceptance of responsibility” for his actions.

This two-level reduction lowers his potential prison time to between zero and six months, while the allowable fine range is between $250 and $5k. While [presiding judge Barbara C.] Moses isn’t bound by these guidelines, scuttlebutt has it that Tom – who has been out on bail pending his sentencing – will likely be spared a custodial sentence.

Tom himself was able to keep his name away from most of the direct US banking-system violations for which his stepbrother, Brent Beckley, took a larger fall. Beckley’s sentence included a larger fine and a paid vacation to a minimum-security federal prison in Colorado. It doesn’t matter, in the US “legal” sense, that Tom was the boss of the company, since most of Absolute Poker’s activity took place outside the US.

It gives a little bit of juice to the old saw about getting off Scott-free –intentionally misspelled and unfunny pun duly noted. As we’ve reported many times in the past, Scott Tom himself was the primary culprit in the insider-cheating scandal at Absolute Poker, though the company’s executive core was all involved or complicit in the cover-up. Millions were stolen from players through the cheating software, though the company admitted to only about $600,000.

The thefts didn’t stop there, of course. There was the shuttering of the company after Black Friday and the unpaid balances of players at AP and sister site UB.com (formerly known as Ultimate Bet). Stradbrooke’s report errs in declaring that former AP players have already been made whole, Many of them will be, once the recently announced remission process for AP and UB has run its course, though that will likely take a couple of years.

It’s also worth noting that nary a dime of that refund money comes from Tom or Beckley or any of the other core AP thieves; instead, it’s being paid for out of leftover funds from PokerStars’ massive 2012 settlement with the US Department of Justice in a separate part of the Black Friday case. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars of stolen player balances that had existed when the Black Friday crackdown occurred.

There’s also the matter of the internal fraud and graft, through which most of the actual profits of the whole AP operation were siphoned off into the offshore holdings of the company’s insiders. The attempts of those insiders to launder those profits through shell companies domiciled in multiple global jurisdictions eventually kicked off the largest tax-fraud case in Norway’s history, as reported in a multi-part expose by prominent Norwegian news outlet Dagens Naeringsliv in late 2011 and early 2012.

The value attached to the Norwegian tax case was USD $250 million, which gives one an idea of how much dirty, embezzled money was being kicked around under the sheets. A lot of it ended up being invested in Central American real estate, through a large number of “Panama Papers”-style foreign agents designed to disguise true ownership, as appears to have happened with the US DOJ being unable to attach to a larger valuation of Tom’s assets.

Of course, when one runs across an entity called “Greencat Holdings” (mindful that one of the cheating accounts was called “GRAYCAT,” named after a favorite cat of Scott Tom’s dad, Phil, who was also AP’s Chairman of the Board), that’s something of a leading clue.

So, despite this writer’s generally good relations withe the guys at CA, when one of them writes something like this… :

As such, we begrudgingly congratulate Tom on the successful resolution of his long-running legal nightmare, although we understand that many former AP/UB players may not be in as forgiving a mood.

… all this writer specifically can say is, “Fuck that nonsense.” The guy belongs in jail somewhere, serving a sentence comparable to what Bernie Madoff got for running his Ponzi scheme.

People such as Scott Tom do serve a purpose, however, and this has nothing to do with the US’s horrible bans on most forms of online gambling. The Scott Toms and Russ Hamiltons and Jennifer Larsons of the world should be Exhibits A, AA and AAA in why the US needs to officially regulate online gambling. These people shouldn’t have been in the business in the first place.

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