Monday June 18, 2012 : BLACK FRIDAY POKER DEFENDANT SEEKS DELAY IN SENTENCING (Update)
Concern that judge may increase punitive penalty for Absolute Poker exec
The trial and punishment of former Absolute Poker finance exec Brent Beckley, one of 11 online poker executives indicted on Black Friday last year, entered a new phase earlier this month when his legal team requested a delay in sentencing in order to prepare arguments against a possible increase in his punishment.
Beckley (31) originally entered a guilty plea of conspiring to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and commit bank fraud in December 2011 on the expectation that his sentence would be 12 to 18 months imprisonment.
At the time he told presiding judge Ronald Ellis: "“I knew that it was illegal to accept credit cards from players to gamble on the Internet,” before being released on bail pending sentencing.
However, events took an unexpected turn in May this year when instead of passing sentence on the agreed plea, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York indicated his intention to consider an upward revision of the penalty and postponed sentencing to June 28.
Judge Kaplan opined that there is “an aggravating circumstance in this case of a kind, or to a degree, not adequately taken into consideration by the Sentencing Commission in formulating the guidelines.”
He also indicated that the pecuniary level of the offence was an influencing factor, with Beckley knowingly breaching U.S. law in a business in which billions of dollars flowed in and out of Absolute Poker, many millions benefiting the company.
Prosecutors and defendant were required to argue against such a "departure from sentencing guidelines" by June 18 and June 8 respectively, and on June 4 Beckley's lawyers requested an extension of this deadline to July 23, a proposal not opposed by the prosecution.
However, court documents indicate that sentencing could be pushed further out – perhaps as late as September – due to previous commitments by both sides in the legal fencing match.
Beckley has already agreed to forfeit $300,000 as part of his plea deal, and this will also be taken into account.