Former SealsWithClubs Exec Bryan Micon Accepts Plea Deal
Bryan Micon, the former chairman of the Bitcoin-based online poker site SealsWithClubs, has accepted a plea deal with Nevada authorities to resolve his one-time operation of the site. Micon was charged in late April with a single count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system in the state of Nevada, which according to the state’s law could have included a hefty $50,000 fine and as much as ten years in prison.
According to Nevada media reports citing local documents in the case, Micon will receive much more lenient terms as part of the deal. Micon will receive probation on the single charge and will have to pay a $25,000 fine. Micon also agreed to relinquish ownership of $900, various electronic equipment seized from his Vegas residence in a February raid, along with 3.0996 Bitcoin seemingly present in a virtual wallet on one of the seized devices.
The deal also reduces the nature of the crime from a felony to a gross misdemeanor, which allows Micon to retain certain US citizenship-based rights. That reduction is conditional upon the successful completion of a probationary period by Micon. The length of the probation has yet to be set by the judge; Micon will return to a Las Vegas courtroom on July 6th to hear the final conditions of the deal.
Micon returned from Antigua last week after the initial framework of his surrender and plea deal was negotiated by his attorneys, the high-powered Vegas firm of Chesnoff & Schonfeld. Richard Schonfeld, who has handled Micon’s case personally, deemed the settlement “an appropriate solution” in a statement to local courtroom media following Thursday’s hearing.
Micon served as the former frontman of the SealsWithClubs site, which was one of the first to accept Bitcoins as a currency medium, but closed immediately following the raid on his apartment. Micon had initially moved to Antigua following that raid. In a statement he issued soon after arriving in Antigua, Micon cited fear for his self and family in the face of the heavily-armed February raid.
While in Antigua, and as a replacement of sorts for the original SealsWithClubs, Micon started up a new Bitcoin-based online poker site, SWCpoker.eu. That site remains in operation, and is the largest Bitcoin-only online poker site on the Internet. However, such sites comprise only a tiny fraction of the users that populate larger and more well-known sites that are valued in real-world currencies such as dollars. Despite their more than three years of active operations, games at the original SealsWithClubs and its virtual replacement, SWCpoker.eu, only a few dozen players were typically playing on the site at any given time — with most of those at micro stakes.
There has been no recent indication from Micon as to whether he has sold his interest in the newer SWCpoker.eu. Micon, formerly active on social media, has not posted publicly on Twitter in nearly two months, since a defense fund he started on public fundraising site GoFundMe was closed by that site for undeclared reasons. It is unknown as to whether any probationary terms would include barring the Nevada resident from having an operational role with any online gambling sites; the Bitcoin-based nature of SealsWithClubs, SWCpoker.eu and similar sites presents an unusual dilemma for authorities, since the online sites themselves do not necessarily know where their customers are located.
Micon, having briefly been booked in Clark County detention upon his return to the US, remains free on his own recognizance pending the July 6th hearing. Should the judge determine that probation is not the proper sentence, Micon will have the option to withdraw his guilty plea.