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Online Poker Black Friday Defendant Avoids Prison

Paul Tate Ordered To Forfeit Six-Figure Sum


A former employee of PokerStars has avoided prison, but was ordered to forfeit $119,000, from the 2011 Black Friday indictments that shut down the U.S.-facing businesses of what were once the world’s largest poker sites.

According to a report from Reuters out of New York City, Paul Tate, who once processed payments for PokerStars, was facing up to five years in prison. However, the judge commended him for finally returning to the U.S. from the Isle of Man to face the charges.

“Given that you couldn’t be extradited for this, you deserve a world of credit for coming to face the music,” the judge reportedly said at a Monday court hearing.

Tate was with PokerStars until the company was acquired by Amaya Gaming in 2014. PokerStars itself settled with the federal government for more than $700 million and didn’t admit to any wrongdoing. Since then, PokerStars has grown its global market share to about 70 percent.

Tate’s guilty plea in October left just Isai Scheinberg, PokerStars’ founder, and Absolute Poker’s Scott Tom with pending charges. Eight others pleaded guilty in connection to the case, which also ensnared Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. A total of 11 people were criminally charged.

Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson had civil cases with the government, and both have been resolved. Ray Bitar was the one Full Tilt owner charged criminally, and he also avoided prison.

Within a year after Black Friday, six of the men had pleaded guilty.

Australian businessman Daniel Tzvetkoff, the man who assisted the feds in crafting the Black Friday indictments, didn’t receive any prison time for his role as a payment processor.

While some were able to avoid prison, others were not. Chad Elie, another man involved with online gaming payment processing, received five months in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Former Utah banker John Campos received three months; Absolute Poker’s Brent Beckley got 14 months; and payment processor Ira Rubin received three years.