A handful of sentencing hearings for prominent defendants in the ongoing prosecution of the so-called “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization,” a large New York City-centered gambling ring with ties to both the poker world and to Russian organized crime, have occurred in recent days, including judgements for “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom and international art dealer Hillel “Helly” Nahmad.
When we checked in last week, two of the primary defendants in the case, Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik, had received five-year sentences for their high-level roles in the group’s activities, which included both live and online bookmaking, high-stakes poker games on both coasts, and even the strong-arming of gamblers who owed the ring money, including a prominent New York plumber whose million-dollar business was appropriated as payment for gambling debts. Additional serious criminal allegations included the laundering of tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds through several international concerns.
Vadim Trincher, of course, was one of at least a dozen of the case’s 34 defendants with prominent poker-world ties, in particular his WPT title at the Borgata in 2009. The latest round of sentencing decisions includes several others among the defendants with poker connections.
For Molly Bloom, the “Poker Princess” and older sister of NFL tight end Jeremy Bloom, the sentence was probation. Bloom was well-known as the operator of poker games on both coasts which were organized under the protection Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, the organization’s leader, who is the only one of the 34 defendants in the case still at large.
Whether Bloom was ever in direct contact with Tokhtakhounov, who was known by his “Taiwanchik” and “Akim” nicknames, remains unclear. What is known is that Bloom served as the public face of private, nosebleed-stakes poker games that attracted an “A” list of participants on both coasts, including athletes, movie stars, corporate executives, a few poker pros.
Another of the case’s well-known defendants, Nahmad, received a sentence of a year and a day for his role in helping to finance a secondary gambling ring. That ring began with Nahmad, via connections with Vadim Trincher’s son, Illya, serving as a financier for the betting activities of sportsbetting sharp Noah Siegel. However, that group eventually crossed the line from placing bets into taking them, even operating an online site HMSSports.com, which was shut down in connection with the case.
Nahmad’s sentence fell in line with what prosecutors had asked, despite a well-financed defense effort that included a ploy for Nahmad-financed community service (he got 300 hours of community service upon his release anyway), and more than 60 written character references from people scattered throughout Nahmad’s high-profile life.
Two of the more well-known poker players among the defendants, Bill Edler and Peter “Nordberg” Feldman, received deferred-prosecution agreements a couple of weeks back, likely sparing them jail time. The pair’s activities were connected to the Nahmad-Trincher sportsbetting group’s activities, with both men having been recruited as baseball-betting experts, and providing services of that nature to the group.
Another of the group’s central defendants, Slava “Stan” Greenberg, pled guilty to a single count of racketeering conspiracy and was sentenced to 15 months in prison. And Michael Sall, a peripheral defendant in the sportsbetting activities centered on Nahmad and Illya Trincher, received two years probation when sentenced last month. Sall’s mainstream claim to fame before this was being the man who lost the $100,000 prop bet to Briam Zembec, in which Zembic wore breast implants for a year.
A few more of the case’s defendants with poker connections will be sentenced in the coming weeks, including John Jarecki (known in poker as John Hansen) and Abe Mosseri. All told, 30 of the case’s 33 defendants who have faced US justice have either pled guilty or reached a deferred-prosecution agreement (Edler and Feldman). The USAO Southern District of New York has also assessed more than $68 million in civil forfeitures in connection to the case.
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