Dewey Tomko

Dewey Tomko-signed Editorial Yanked from Press of Atlantic City Site

More breaking news from the “James Thackston” front regarding the curious happenings surrounding anti-online poker activist, with today’s latest being the sudden yanking of a controversial editorial published in mid-March by the prominent Press of Atlantic City, purportedly written by long-time Florida poker players Dewey Tomko and Bill Byers.

It was Tomko’s addition to the editorial, in the opinion of this writer, that gave the piece the gravitas it needed to be run by the PoAC to begin with.  After all, it was Tomko, we were told, the three-time WSOP bracelet winner who was so convinced that regulated online poker was rife with money-laundering and collusion by online players that New Jersey should immediate implement massive testing.  New Jersey, by a strange coincidence, is where the editorial appeared.  That’s what having your name on an editorial means: These are your opinions.

Dewey-TomkoAnd of course, Bill Byers, Tomko’s co-author in the New Jersey op-ed, was already shown to be an investor in Thackston’s software-development business, which is intended to provide a solution for the imaginary problem that the now-yanked Tomko-Byers editorial tried to invent.

Except it’s all a carny game.  According to Thackston, per an e-mail sent to Steve Ruddock at OnlinePokerReport, where the “official” unfolding of this latest chapter continues, Tomko was an investor in Thackston’s software businesses all along.

Ruddock, who has been in communication with Thackston and Cheri Jacobus, received the following from Thackston this morning:

Dewey Tomko is a longtime investor in Concierge Holdings, Inc., a company we formed in the mid-2000’s to address the ipoker security problems, the same problems recently confirmed by McAfee.

Others from the poker industry are also investors.

I am seeing stories saying I impersonated Dewey Tomko.

This is false. The facts are as sent you last night (I have included the body of that email below).

I spoke to Dewey several times over the past few days including today and he said he doesn’t know what his lawyer sent to the paper.

I hope the truth is told on this.

Thank You and Regards,
Jim Thackston

While Thackston’s money-laundering claims continue to be contrived, ridiculous scenarios designed to sell software, the assertion he makes regarding Tomko’s participation appears well supported by the facts already made public.  Also, behind-the-scenes rumors suggest Thackston’s own lawyer may be getting involved re: Tomko, since it was Tomko who forced the removal of the Press of Atlantic City by having his own lawyer, Richard E. Straughn send a letter.

From another piece published in the last hour, this time by Nolan Dalla (and we’ll continue on an unfortunate Nolan tangent below), to the Press of AC’s editorial-page editor, Jim Perskie, demanded the piece’s removal:

Mr. Perskie:

I am Mr. Dewey Tomko’s attorney.

… Please be advised that Mr. Tomko did not write or approve the editorial describe above. Mr. Tomko requests that The Press of Atlantic City remove this editorial from its online edition … IMMEDIATELY. Further, Mr Tomko requests that the any mention of Mr. Tomko with this editorial be discontinued. On behalf of Mr. Tomko thank you for your understanding in this matter.

The Press of Atlantic City duly yanked the piece, but not because of any legal threat from Straughn — you’ll notice there actually isn’t any, which is in itself an exception to the libel/slander/defamation “cartooney” threats that publishers, writers and editors alike commonly receive.  (I’ve gotten three in the last three months; I’m on a hot streak.)  I do like the ALL CAPS, though; I’m sure that made the PofAC’s publishers quake.

But why the PoAC yanked it is simply: They can no longer trust the veracity of any of the authors involved.  Here’s what the retraction by the Jersey paper no longer has to deal with, simply by pulling the piece: Before publishing, an author-verification e-mail was sent by the newspaper to Dewey’s personal address, and Dewey appears — this is not for certain, but it has a high likelihood — to have replied in the affirmative regarding the piece.

Here’s the key info from another e-mail, this time from Byers to the PoAC, which appears in its entirety over in Ruddock’s OPR piece:

From: Bill Byers [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2014 6:05 PM

To: Perskie, Jim; Faherty, Tim

Dewey Tomko is a Poker Hall of Fame inductee and both of us each have 40+ years of experience in the game.

Dewey Tomko lives in Windemere, Florida and can be reached via cell phone at [redacted].

His email address is [redacted]


Bill Byers

It is highly unlikely that the Press of Atlantic City published that op-ed without sending the confirmation e-mail that they later claimed they indeed sent, as reported by F5Poker.  Despite Dalla’s call for the PoAC to retract the piece, the far, far likelier explanation is that Tomko did an about-face in the face of six weeks of poker-world blowback.

(Note: I also sent an e-mail to PoAC editors this week asking, “Retraction coming soon?”, in which I mentioned Dalla’s piece, but I also sent that paper several links to sources that the PPA’s Rich Muny and I had uncovered in the past week or so that showed both the real nature of Thackston’s and Byers’ business enterprise, and Tomko’s possible link to it.  Based on those other links alone, the piece should have been yanked, if never published in the first place.)

Whether Tomko actually bothered to read the final version of the piece doesn’t really matter, since his name was on it, and the thing wouldn’t even have been published otherwise.  That’s why Byers mentioned Tomko being in the Poker Hall of Fame.

And that leads to the other problem here, seeing one of poker’s truly great people, Nolan Dalla, trying to do an old buddy a major big here and fouling up big time in the process.

The first major goof by Nolan was assuming that his calling up his old buddy Dewey was somehow a greater and more truthful method of fact-checking than that employed by the Press of Atlantic City.

Dalla neglected to remind himself that sometimes people lie, and it happens a lot when secret business investments are at stake.  Nolan didn’t vet his own process and look into the things that Tomko claimed.  Instead, he just ran with his stuff, forgetting that he himself — same as with me, same as a lot of people — is subject to a less stringent level of fact-checking that the Press of Atlantic City would be.  The Jersey paper should still be blamed for not checking into Tomko’s past and discovering that he’s the co-owner of a Costa Rica casino, which should have invalidated the op-ed anyway, but Nolan in his defense of Tomko created a standard of proof that he himself then stomped on.

Nolan did no checking of facts, it seems.  He threw out lots of links and claimed Tomko was being smeared, but… no checking of facts.

And now, when presented with today’s wholly predictable twists, Nolan writes the following:

Meanwhile, there’s general agreement by everyone involved that Mr. Tomko did not actually write the editorial, nor did he approve of the final draft. What remains open to question is Mr. Thackston’s account of the incident. However, it’s also reasonable to take him at his word that Mr. Tomko was indeed present at one point when a draft was being written, and simply forgot about the meeting.

To the contrary, there’s general agreement that Tomko didn’t write the piece (a careful look at an extract of the op-ed, near the bottom, shows that it was indeed crafted by Byers and Thackston).  There is no agreement whatsoever that Tomko didn’t sign off on the use of his name, especially since Byers and Thackston are now alleged to be his active business partners.

Dalla wants to claim that this is all an invention of Thackston”s, but that doesn’t hold much water.  Remember Dewey Tomko telling Nolan this:

On the editorial which appeared in The Press of Atlantic Citynewspaper:

I have no idea what you’re talking about.  You know me.  I don’t write columns to newspapers.  I’ve got other things that keep me plenty busy.

On knowing Bill Byers, who allegedly co-authored the editorial with Tomko, which appeared in The Press of Atlantic Citynewspaper:

Sure, I know Bill Byers.  But I haven’t talked to him in ten years.

On being asked permission to have his name attached to the editorial:

No.  That didn’t happen.  No one every asked me about it.  This is the first I’ve ever heard about it.

On his knowledge or association with Hilbert Shirey, who is/was reportedly an executive in a company headed by James Thackson (see The Hill story referenced above):

Sure, we’re friends….but I haven’t talked to Hilbert in at least three or four years.

Then Thackston, who is nutso about his scenarios in the way of a true believer, but has not been shown to be a liar about his business dealings, wrote this to Ruddock:

I sat down with Dewey at his office to discuss the op-ed.

He pointed out the changes that should be made and, with the condition that edits were made he agreed to author the piece.

It’d be one thing to disregard Thackston’s version if his story was different from the available evidence, but both the background material and the way this tale unfolded strongly indicate that it’s Tomko who’s trying to rewrite history.  Tomko doesn’t want to take responsibility for the fact that the use of his name allowed the piece to be published, and that (according to Thackston) he’s a silent partner in a decade-old software venture that’s gone to extremes in order to invent a market which that very same editorial was designed to promote.

And as for Nolan Dalla, it’s his work that’s really in need of major updates.  Good intentioned though the original was, it’s wrongness and today’s marshmallow treatment of Dewey Tomko are both far below Dalla’s ordinary awesome standards.  Here’s to him recognizing that Dewey Tomko may have used his friendship in a manner similar to, in a much more serious matter, how Russ Hamilton once played on the goodwill of Barry Greenstein to protest his innocence regarding the UltimateBet scandal.

After all, what are friends for?


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