Absolute Poker co-founder pleads guilty to conspiracy charges
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A co-founder of Absolute Poker, one of three major Internet card-play sites targeted by the federal government this year, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges linked to a sprawling illegal gambling case.
The felony charges against Brent Beckley include bank and wire fraud and violation of Internet gambling law. Prosecutors have accused Absolute Poker, as well as fellow gambling sites Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, of convincing financial institutions to process online gambling payments by disguising them as transactions with Internet retail merchants.
Beckley told a judge in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan that he “knew that it was illegal to deceive the banks,” according to the Associated Press. He will face sentencing April 19 after striking a plea deal that could land him in prison for a year to a year and a half.
The three gambling sites involved in the case are headquartered abroad.
The government filed a $3-billion civil lawsuit against the companies, which it amended in September to describe Full Tilt Poker as a “global Ponzi scheme” that was “not a legitimate poker company.”
The FBI shut down their websites in the U.S. in April on a day that many poker players now refer to as Black Friday. Prosecutors indicted the founders of the three businesses on charges of bank fraud, money laundering and gambling law violations.
Bradley Franzen, another defendant who helped work with payment processors, pleaded guilty in May after initially entering a not guilty plea.
-- Tiffany Hsu