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Feds Bust Poker Games With Links To Russian Mob

Handful Of Poker Players Named In 84-Page Indictment


American poker players haven’t been repaid yet from the Full Tilt Poker case, but the Department of Justice decided to bust a handful of poker players Tuesday as part of a crackdown on alleged shady dealings by Russian mafia operating within the country.

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney who indicted the major owners of the offshore poker sites in 2011, announced that an indictment was unsealed against 34 persons. The charges largely center on money laundering and illegal gambling (both in person and over the web).

The poker games in question, one of the many tentacles of the case, allegedly ran in or around New York City. According to a statement from New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, proceeds from these games allegedly were “funneled to organized crime overseas.”

According to the indictment, poker players (those with major tournament cashes) John Hanson, Justin Smith, Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Vadim Trincher (whose two sons, Illya and Eugene were also named) Eddie Ting and Arthur Azen were involved in illegal activity.

Vadim TrincherTrincher, Hanson and Azen appear to be the poker players facing the stiffest of penalties. Trincher could spend 90 years in prison if convicted, Hanson could find himself with 92, and Azen is on the hook for 115. Trincher, who won a World Poker Tour event in 2009 for $731,079, is alleged to be one of the most deeply involved out of the aforementioned group.

Smith, Mosseri, Edler and Feldman are each facing a maximum possible sentence of 10 years for “operating an illegal gambling business” and “unlawful Internet gambling.” They apparently aren’t in hot water for said poker games.

Ting is on the hook for 30, as he has also been charged with money laundering. He is also one of seven individuals accused of running said underground poker games. Molly “Poker Princess” Bloom is also among that group. She faces 10 years in jail.

All of the aforementioned face massive fines to go along with possible prison terms.

In something out of the movie Rounders, threats were made to individuals who had outstanding sports betting or poker debts. Three persons are alleged to have used threats of violence. The indictment didn’t say who they threatened.

High-stakes private games are well-known to be places of immense action, and Bloom has reportedly been involved with organizing them before with the likes of movie stars such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and baseball star Alex Rodriguez. According to the indictment, the illegal gambling businesses “catered primarily to celebrities, professional poker players, and very wealthy individuals working in the financial industry.”

The indictment also snared a “prestigious” art gallery in New York City.

Bharara said that “international money laundering is a serious offense, and we will do everything within our power to inhibit those who seek to sanitize the proceeds of crime through legitimate investment vehicles in this country from doing so.”