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Absolute Poker co-founder pleads guilty to conspiracy

A co-founder of Absolute Poker, one of three major Internet card-playing sites targeted by the federal government in an illegal gambling sweep this year, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges.

Brent Beckley, a U.S. citizen who lives in Costa Rica, was charged with violating Internet gambling laws and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.

Prosecutors accused Absolute Poker, as well as gambling sites Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, of persuading financial institutions to process online gambling transactions from players’ credit cards by disguising them as payments for items such as jewelry and golf balls.

Beckley told a judge in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that he “knew that it was illegal to deceive the banks,” according to the Associated Press. He will be sentenced April 19. He reportedly has struck a plea deal that could land him in prison for a year to a year and a half.

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The three gambling sites involved in the case are headquartered abroad, which prosecutors say may have facilitated the fraud. The government filed a $3-billion civil lawsuit against the companies, which it amended in September to brand Full Tilt as a “global Ponzi scheme” that was “not a legitimate poker company.”

The FBI shut down the domain names for all three sites in April on a day that many 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, who processed payments from U.S. poker players, pleaded guilty in May after initially pleading not guilty.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com


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