Absolute Poker Scott Tom

A Scott Tom Sun… Monday, Part 3: The Gang’s All Here

Continuing on with our special Sunday/Monday trifecta of features on former Absolute Poker president Scott Tom, who was sentenced on Thursday on a single Black Friday-related count. Scott returned to the US from Antigua to resolve the charges against him, packing a prominent Las Vegas attorney and a pre-arranged deal, which was expected to find him paying a fine of $300,000, plus expenses, and being ordered to leave the US for good after being placed on probation.

In prior posts, we’ve examined Tom’s pre-sentencing submission (Part 1 / Part 2). We’ve looked at both the often-ludicrous alternate history offered regarding his time with and responsibilities at Absolute Poker, and the recapping of what he’s been up to, post-Black Friday — the running of a prominent party boat in an Antiguan harbor.

Scott Tom

Scott Tom as he appeared in his Absolute Poker days

Yet there’s more of interest. Such pre-sentencing submissions invariably include a list of character references from as prominent and widespread a list of a defendant’s associates as a lawyer can access. That rule held true with Tom’s pre-sentencing defense memo, which included a dozen such references spanning nearly 40 pages. The wide-ranging singers of praise ranged from Tom’s younger stepsister to business associates and high-ranking Antiguan government officials.

Also included: Four people associated with Scott Tom and Absolute Poker in various ways, including former Tokwiro Enterprises COO Paul Leggett. Tokwiro was one of several shell companies created in an attempt to provide legal cover for Absolute Poker’s and UltimateBet / UB.com’s post-UIGEA operations.

Last time the poker world heard much about Leggett, he was briefly employed by Canada’s Amaya Gaming back in 2013. Leggett was hired and then was either quickly let go or resigned under some pressure when the depth of the poker world’s antipathy toward him became more known at Amaya. Yet Leggett latched on elsewhere, under lower profile. His letter on Scott Tom’s behalf states that he’s now an executive at a payment company called PaymentFlo, Inc.

PaymentFlo, Inc. seems to be involved in credit-card processing, though it keeps a low profile. It’s current director is listed as Jay Dickson of Montreal. The company became PaymentFlo Inc. in 2012 after changing its name from a more generic entity, 8676127 Canada Inc. That older company, also domiciled in Montreal, listed as a director none other than prominent Canadian gaming attorney Morden “Cookie” Lazarus. Lazurus had his hands in Absolute Poker business for many years, and was a key link between AP and the Kahnawake Reserve operations.

The apple never falls far from the tree, as one can see. Also appearing among Scott Tom’s character references is the man who hired Leggett to work at AP, Hilt Tatum IV. Tatum IV was one of the four generally recognized co-founders of AP, even if he was fourth of the four to join in. Tatum IV’s inherited wealth helped give AP an investment boost early on, and he was a prominent part of AP all along, though there’s no mention of that in his letter.

Tatum, like Tom, relocated out of the US to stay clear of possible legal ramifications; he’s the AP frat boy well known in online-poker circles for moving his wedding to a Florida socialite from that state to Paris at the last minute, just in case he or other AP execs were listed on secret warrants issued by the DOJ.

These days, Tatum IV runs a housing-development firm in Panama called iPoint Capital Partners, which appears to have a thousand or so employees, and he’s also the CEO of Oxford Consulting. Tatum’s a resident of Panama City, and he lightly boasts of his globe-trotting lifestyle and charitable endeavors on one of his personal blogs.

Tatum’s father, Oscar Hilt Tatum III, also served up a reference for Scott Tom. Tatum III was one of the major investment procurers for Absolute Poker in its early days: The successful Florida dental surgeon convinced many of his fellow Florida dental professionals to invest in AP, and those millions of dollars funded much of AP’s early marketing boost. Unfortunately, most of those investors were ripped off, receiving only pennies on the dollar, then being left adrift entirely as the core people at AP looted the company in its later years. The wealthy Tatum III is now semi-retired in the Clearwater, Florida area.

Also appearing in Scott Tom’s references was former SAE frat-boy Pete Barovich. Barovich was also a well-heeled type — the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity appeared to have been largely a rich-kids’ party club — and Barovich was also part of the core founding group. Whether he was one of the site’s true founders is a matter of interpretation, as he was either the fifth or six person to join the startup.

Barovich was already running his own company when Scott Tom first called, young 20-something that he was, and Barovich went back to that when AP’s glass house collapsed. These days, he’s the president of an established lighting company in Phoenix, Arizona.

Barovich was actually running Absolute Poker’s branch office in Panama when Black Friday occurred, and news report indicated he was in charge of shutting down that part of the AP operation as the site quietly turned off the lights and disappeared into the night. Barovich wasn’t part of the messy operation in Costa Rica, which saw the main customer-service center raided by authorities, and as he wasn’t listed in Black Friday’s list of individual defendants, he was able to return to the US without being charged. He also held a significant chunk of AP stock and was a prominent member of AP’s inner circle. Not that you’d find that background in his reference letter, of course.

We’ll have one more entry in this generalized Scott Tom / Absolute Poker update, following the release of all sentencing information. It is known that Tom was sentenced on Thursday on a single misdemeanor count of accessory after the fact to the transmission of gambling information, while other ounts against him were dismissed as part of the plea deal reached earlier this year.

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