Taiwanchik-Trincher Sportsbetting Update: 24 Pleas, 9 in Pre-Trial, 1 at Large

scales-justiceThe Southern District of New York sportsbetting case against 34 defendants, many with prominent poker connections, looks to be winding down as SDNY prosecutors return from their own holiday break.  Of the 34 defendants in the case, only 10 have yet to reach deals with prosecutors, including one who remains at large and outside US jurisdiction, alleged Russian mobster and vory v zakone (“thief in law”) Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov.

Tokhtakhounov is alleged to have provided protection to the multi-layered sportsbetting operation, which was centered in New York City and featured both online and live wagering along with exclusive high-stakes poker games.  Twenty-four defendants have pled out in the case, including Vadim Trincher and sons Illya and Eugene; the elder Trincher’s posh apartment was the location of many of the exclusive, raked poker games targeted by SDNY prosecutors.

A brief in the case filed in December by attorneys from Preet Bharara’s SDNY office advised the court that plea negotiations with several of the remaining defendants were ongoing, and with the court’s approval, the next set of deadlines have been pushed back to late January and early February to allow the plea negotiations to continue.  The trials themselves for any remaining defendants are set to begin in June of 2014.

With the exception of Tokhtakhounov, who is unlikely to surrender to US authorities to face trial, these are the outstanding defendants in the case:

  • John Hanson
  • Donald McCalmont
  • Alexander Katchaloff
  • Ilya Rosenfeld
  • Peter Skyllas
  • Abe Mosseri
  • Bill Edler
  • Peter Feldman
  • Joseph Mancuso

As one can see, these defendants represent a sizable percentage of the notable poker-related defendants charged in the case, though others, such as the Trincher family and Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, have already reached deals. Here’s the status of the remaining nine:

John Hanson — Hanson (also known as John Jarecki), a poker pro with a sizable tournament resume, faces some of the more serious charges in the case, if not on the level of the operation’s ringleaders, including Tokhtakhounov, Vadim Trincher, art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nehmad and others.

Hanson faces 11 counts, including racketeering and racketeering, money laundering, extortion and IGBA-related charges.  Hanson recently added attorney Jeffrey Lichtman as co-counsel in his defense.  Lichtman also represented one of the primary defendants in the case, Anatoly Golubchik, and successfully negotiated a plea deal on Hanson’s behalf, an indicator that the same is likely in store for Hanson.  Hanson’s bond was originally set at $1,000,000, but was later lowered to $600,000 and granted in October.

Donald McCalmont — McCalmont faces seven counts, including any of those faced by Hanson/Jarecki.  A deal for McCalmont is in the works, but has been delayed by his changing of attorneys at least twice since the case was filed.  The second change in defense attorneys apparently came after McCalmont sent a letter to presiding judge Jesse M. Furman, without his attorney’s knowledge.

Alexander Katchaloff — Katchaloff, the father of poker pro Eugene Katchalov and a close family friend of the Trinchers, faces only two minor sportsbetting-related charges and has been free on bond for many months.  A plea deal seems very likely.

Ilya Rozenfeld — Appears to have worked as a collector in the secondary sportsbetting group called the Druzhinsky Organization.  Rozenfeld still faces three counts, including money laundering conspiracy and attempts to collect “extensions of credit by extortionate means”.  That’s reminiscent of the charges levied at poker player Kirill Rapoport, another defendant in the Druzhinsky circle who faced similar charges, who allegedly used the threat of MMA fighters against in-debt gamblers to collect those debts.

Peter Skyllas — Alleged in some reports to be “Pete the Plumber,” the unconfirmed high-stakes poker fish who lost more than a million dollars at the Trincher poker tables and signed over his lucrative NYC plumbing business, under duress, to pay his debts.  If true, it’s hard to explain why Skyllas is one of the case’s defendants, rather than being one of its extortion victims, although he faces only a single count of money-laundering conspiracy.

Abe Mosseri —  Faces three sportsbetting-related charges, similar to Bill Edler and Peter Feldman (below).  Mosseri may have had slightly more contact with the collective rings’ more important members.  Mosseri also had cash and poker chips seized from a security box at the Bellagio in connection with the case.

Bill Edler — Edler is free on $150,000 bail in Nevada.  He’s a minor defendant in the case, and may well be in the process of negotiating a plea deal.  Edler faces three sportsbetting counts, and has been alleged on various poker and sportsbetting forums to have played a very minor role, forwarding bets from others to the Taiwanchik-Trincher group.  Plea deal appears to be in progress.

Peter Feldman — Also free on bail and facing the same three charges as Edler, and alleged to have served as a technical “bookie” for the organization in accepting and forwarding bets.  “Nordberg,” a famed online player, represents another likely plea deal in progress.

Joseph Mancuso — Mancuso has a handful of minor poker results but isn’t near the scale of pker notability as Edler, Smith, Feldman or several others.  Mancuso appears to have worked in the operation of the poker games — perhaps in conjunction with “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom — but has not yet reached a deal with prosecutors.  Mancuso faces only minor poker-business and Travel Act charges, and it’s something of a surprise that no deal with him has been reached as yet.


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