Two More Plea Deals in Trincher-related Sportsbetting, Poker Indictments
Early returns from the New York crackdown on the high-stakes poker and sportsbetting ring allegedly led in part by former World Poker Tour winner Vadim Trincher show prosecutors as 3-for-3 to date, following the announcement of plea deals reached with two relatively minor defendants charged with supporting roles in the ring’s poker-game operations.
The case, which involves three separate rings and alleged ties to the Russian Mob, saw the roundup of 34 defendants, including many prominent poker pros, who according to the indictment were involved in money laundering and extortion in addition to the gambling activities, which were themselves illegal under New York law.
The latest plea deals in the case were reached with defendants Kirill Rapoport and William Barbalat, who appear to have helped operate the high-stakes, NY-area games organized by Trincher and others. Among those were the celebrated games held in Trincher’s own Trump Towers apartment.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, a figure well known to poker readers, said the following in a release. “For three years, William Barbalat and Kirill Rapoport oversaw illegal gambling enterprises in the Southern District of New York. With their pleas, we move closer to holding to account all those who participated in this wide-ranging network of criminal conduct linked to organized crime.”
Barbalat and Rapoport each faced possible ten-year sentences before reaching the deal with Bharara’s office. Each will still face a possible five-year sentence under the deal, with sentencing to take place in December, though a much shorter term (perhaps six months?) is likely to be handed down at that time.
In addition to supervised release following whatever prison time is meted out, the two also received stiff fines: $150,000 for Barbalat and $250,000 for Rapoport.
The two join California film producer Bryan Zuriff in reaching a deal with the EDNY over the charges. Like Barbalot and Rapoport, Zuriff was also charged in connection with the operation of the poker games. Another California figure, poker-game organizer Molly Bloom, is among the other 31 defendants in this case.
Bloom was noted separately for being the organizer of the California celebrity games featuring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others that was targeted by civil action after one of the rich fish in that game turned out to have defrauded investors of millions, much of which he then lost at the poker tables.
The major defendants in this case have yet to reach any sort of deal, which in addition to Vadim Trincher include alleged Russian mobster Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov.
Tokhtakhounov, also known as “Akim,” was once named in a Forbes Magazine international ten-most-wanted-fugitives feature, and is alleged to be an arms smuggler, among other activities. Bharara’s office alleged that some of the millions in gambling proceeds taken in by the the “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization” were funneled overseas to Tokhtakhounov, who has not set foot on American soil in recent years.
Many of the most serious allegations involving the Taiwanchik-Trincher group center on heavy-handed extortion threats made against players who gambled their way into severe debt to the group. One example is that of a player affectionately known as “Joe the Plumber,” who was forced to sign over half of his lucrative New York plumbing business to the group after, according to the indictment, threats of physical harm. At least two others were threatened by some of the group’s members in similar manners.
Numerous poker figures also remain among the 31 defendants who will either reach a plea deal or go to trial in the coming months. As detailed in FlushDraw’s own extensive coverage on the indictments, poker figures involved in addition to Trincher and his sons Illya and Eugene include Abe Mosseri, Alexander Katchaloff, Justin “BooostedJ” Smith, John Hanson, Bill Edler, Eddie Ting and Peter “Nordberg” Feldman. Mosseri faces more serious charges than the others, for his alleged larger role in the operation.