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US Gambling Ring Defendants Charged

Sunday April 21, 2013 : U.S. GAMBLING RING DEFENDANTS CHARGED
 
Almost three dozen colourful characters plead not guilty
 
The massive enforcement swoop on internet sports betting and poker that started in New York and spread across the United States last week  had a sequel in a federal court in Manhattan Friday, when more than 30 defendants pleaded not guilty.
 
Over the weekend, the Associated Press news agency succinctly summed up the widely reported federal raids, saying that a colourful cast of characters stand accused of involvement in the sprawling scheme allegedly controlled by organised crime rings in Russia and America.
 
Among those arrested were celebrity poker players, a glamorous high stakes poker organiser, a billionaire art gallery owner and individuals accused of money laundering and running illegal internet sports betting enterprises.
 
Prosecutors in the case claim that at least $100 million in illegal gambling proceeds have been laundered through hundreds of bank accounts and shell companies in Cyprus and the United States.
 
Mark Galeotti, a Russian organised crime expert at New York University, told the news agency that the case illustrates "...the insatiable appetite for sports betting around the globe, and the enormous potential for illicit profits. The steep rise in wealth among the upper class in the former Soviet Union has driven that potential to new heights."
 
Galeotti added that higher-rolling businessmen are involved in these types of cases...and the bookies handling their action are left with the problem "of trying to figure out what to do with suitcases full of cash."
 
One of the alleged U.S. ringleaders was living in a luxury apartment on Fifth Avenue, just one floor below Donald Trump's apartment.
 
"There, he oversaw a network of Internet sites that formed 'the world's largest sports book' catering 'almost exclusively to oligarchs living in the Ukraine and the Russian Federation,' prosecutors claim.
 
Federal agents eavesdropped on thousands of cellphone conversations, prosecutors said, pointing to one exchange in which the alleged ring leader warned a customer who owed money that "he should be careful, lest he be tortured or found underground."
 
The ring is alleged to have paid Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov - already under indictment in a separate U.S. case accusing him of bribing Olympic figure skating judges at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City - $20 million in gambling proceeds in a two-month period alone, court documents reveal.
 
In another transaction in late 2010, the same man wired $3 million from a Cyprus bank account to another account in the United States, the documents show.
 
Mafia undertones are evident in the indictment, accusing Tokhtakhounov of being a "vor" - a term roughly translated to "thief-in-law" and comparable to a Mafia godfather, reports Associated Press.
 
International celebrities and businessmen with a taste for high stakes poker were uncovered by federal investigators enquiring into a related enterprise that allegedly involved a top art gallery owned by billionaire Hillel Nahmad, and a glamorous 34-year-old women who organised games in New York's swish Plaza Hotel for the rich and famous, some of whom ran up substantial debts.
 
The woman, Molly Bloom, apparently had a run-in with 'Eastern European thugs' in 2010, when she was roughed up.
 
The trial of the defendants has been scheduled for the summer of 2014, and will attract massive interest as the results of the federal investigation unfold.
 
But, Associated Press points out, one of the lead characters in the drama is currently not available; 64-year-old Tokhtakhounov is reportedly living in luxury in Russia, where he is alleged to be an important leader in the Russian criminal underworld.



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NHL Odds: Forsberg Faces Elliott in Nashville - The last time the Nashville Predators played against the Calgary Flames, Calgary had a 4-1 lead five minutes into the second period. Nashville responded with four back-to-back goals, including a hat trick from centreman Filip Forsberg. Both teams went into overtime with five goals, and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano (12 goals, 22 assists) scored the winning goal.

Sit & Go 2.0 launched online exclusively at Americas Cardroom - Get ready to cheer like a champion before the first flop is even dealt. The much-anticipated Sit & Go 2.0 is now launched online exclusively at Americas Cardroom and Sit & Go players are reaping the benefits of the next evolution of poker.

NBA Odds: Hawks, Wiz in Southeast Showdown - The Washington Wizards (42-27 SU, 36-32-1 ATS) can pretty much secure the Southeast Division title with a win Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks (37-32 SU, 31-38 ATS). Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN; the Wizards lead Atlanta by five games with less than a month remaining before the playoffs.

Mega Moolah progressive jackpot Hit Again - Microgaming’s Mega Moolah progressive jackpot slot has been hit yet again at just over €6.6 million!

NBA Odds: Clippers Try to Slow Down Bucks in LA - Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin are two of the most talented and versatile forwards in the NBA. The two lead their teams into battle on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

NCAAB Odds: SMU Hosts Tulsa With AAC Title on the Line - There aren’t too many college basketball teams more profitable than the SMU Mustangs (25-4 SU, 18-5-1 ATS). They host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (14-14 SU, 15-12 ATS) this Thursday night, tipping off at 8 PM ET on CBSSN.

NHL Odds: Canadiens Welcome Islanders Tonight - The Montreal Canadiens (32-20-8) welcome the New York Islanders (28-21-10) on Thursday (7:30 PM ET on SNE). After getting their first victory under new head coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens will look to build on that momentum against a red-hot Islanders team.

NHL Odds: Reeling Flyers Seek Relief in Pittsburgh - #nhl The Philadelphia Flyers have been a bit off since the holidays. They’ve won just eight games since the Christmas break, and now they’ve got a tough one coming up this Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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