Wednesday November 13 ,2013 : POKER ORGANISING ART DEALER PLEADS GUILTY IN NEW YORK (Update)
Hill Nahmad pleads guilty to a single federal charge of illegal gambling.
Hillel Nahmad (35), scion of a super-wealthy New York art dealer family and a defendant in a sensational local poker bust, pleaded guilty late Tuesday to a single federal gambling charge, part of a major racketeering indictment that also named several reputed Russian mobsters.
U.S. and international media widely reported that Nahmad admitted to the United States District Court in Manhattan that he played a leadership role in the gambling ring, busted with the arrest of 34 individuals earlier this year.
He agreed as part of his plea bargain to forfeit more than $6.4 million in cash and a painting worth several hundred thousand dollars.
Nahmad escaped relatively lightly; he was initially charged with racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, gambling, money laundering, conspiracy and other crimes. Had he gone to trial and been convicted on all counts, he would have faced a maximum of 92 years in prison.
Instead, his admission of a single charge of illegal gambling brings his sentence to a possible 12 to 18 months. Under the agreement, his lawyers can ask that the judge impose a sentence that includes no jail time and the dismissal of the other charges in the indictment.
Judge Jesse M. Furman, who is hearing the case, is scheduled to impose sentence on March 19.
Federal investigators allege that the gambling ring centred on Nahmad's gallery was a $100 million gambling and money-laundering network that organised poker games and sports betting operations and drew hundred-thousand-dollar wagers from celebrities and billionaires.
Addressing Judge Furman, Nahmad admitted that he had helped conduct an illegal business, and said:
“Judge, this all started as a group of friends betting on sports events, but I recognize that I crossed the line, and I apologize to the court and my family.”
Prosecutors told local reporters that Nahmad was the 14th of the 34 defendants charged in the case to plead guilty. The others who pleaded guilty agreed to forfeit a total of $9 million, they revealed.
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office prosecuted the case, said:
“Hillel Nahmad headed an illegal sports gambling business with ties to a Russian-American organized crime ring. Nahmad bet that he would never get caught and he lost.”
Prosecutors claimed that Nahmad provided the gambling business with millions of dollars transferred from his father’s Swiss bank account. His lawyers said that Nahmad's father thought he was paying off his son's personal debt.
Nahmad enjoys a high living standard, residing in a $21 million apartment at Trump Tower and claiming as friends celebrities like Gisele Bündchen and Leonardo DiCaprio.