12/20/11 : BLACK FRIDAY DEFENDANT PLEADS GUILTY
Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley pleads guilty in Manhattan court
International media are widely reporting that Brent Beckley (31), one of 11 Black Friday indictees and a founder of Absolute Poker pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis in Manhattan, accepting responsibility for his conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate an Internet gambling law.
The sentencing guideline range in his plea agreement is 12 to 18 months in prison, and sentencing is set for April 19 2012 – almost a year on from Black Friday.
“I knew that it was illegal to accept credit cards from players to gamble on the Internet,” Beckley told the judge. “I knew that it was illegal to deceive the banks in this way.”
Beckley admitted to hiring fellow defendant Ira Rubin in 2008 to process e-checks for Absolute Poker as payroll processing, affiliate marketing or online electronics merchant transactions. Rubin is reportedly also considering entering a guilty plea.
Several mainstream media outlets recalled that Beckley and other defendants are alleged to have helped conceal money received from U.S. gamblers by disguising it as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell items such as jewelry and golf balls.
Beckley’s attorney, Robert Cleary, declined to comment after the hearing.
Prosecutors claim in the Black Friday indictments that after the U.S. enacted the UIGEA in 2006 barring banks from processing payments to offshore gambling websites, Absolute Poker, Isle of Man-based PokerStars and Ireland-based Full Tilt Poker worked around the ban to continue operating in the U.S.
Another defendant, Bradley Franzen, pleaded guilty in May.
The government has also filed a civil lawsuit against the Full Tilt Poker website. Department of Justice officials have accused self-styled "Poker Professor" Howard Lederer and professional poker champion Christopher Ferguson and others of paying themselves more than $440 million while defrauding other players.