When the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed the fact that 34 men were indicted on illegal gambling charges, the poker community got curious. Some of the names were made public immediately after and among the poker professionals featuring on this list were Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Abe Mosseri, John Hanson and Vadim Trinchet.
Bryan Zuriff was also on the list and the executive producer of Ray Donovan, a popular Showtime drama was the first to plead guilty in the case. He was charged with running illegal sports betting rings in LA and will appear in front of a judge on November 25. This week, two more defendants pleaded guilty to illegal gambling charges, William Barbalat and Kirill Rapoport now awaiting sentencing.
Both will appear in front of Judge Jesse M. Furman on December 16 and December 18, facing a maximum sentence of five years behind bars. William Barbalat forfeited $150,000 to the US while Kirill Rapoport gave up $250,000 after pleading guilty, under the terms of the settlement. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York told the media that the two of them were charged with running illegal poker games and aiding in unlawful activity.
What makes these illegal poker games different from other rings organised nationwide, is that players competed at high-stakes. The size of the pots frequently exceeded tens of thousands of dollars and the operators took rake from every pot, which translated into massive profits. Such actions are illegal and led to the apprehension of Barbalat and Rapoport, but the authorities told the media that many rich Wall Street investors, Hollywood actors and professional athletes also set down at these tables.
William and Kirill played a central role in the illegal gambling ring, by overseeing the operation, but the main actors are the ones that the FBI hopes to get convicted. Following a comprehensive investigation, they learned that the vast majority of funds were cited from outside United States, as the gambling enterprise was used to fund the Russian Mafia.
The connections with the organised crime are obvious and numerous, and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York hopes that this latest admission of guilt, will get them one step closer to holding accountable all those responsible. The investigators found out that those running the illegal gambling scheme didn’t hesitate to resort to force to compel those who owed money to pay up.