More Plea Deals in Taiwanchik-Trincher Sportsbetting Cases

doj-logoMore plea deals are on the table in the major New York City sportsbetting and poker case against 34 individuals, including many well-known poker pros.  The New York Daily News reported on Friday that Justin Smith, known online as “BooostedJ” or “BoostedJ”, and Edwin Ting will be pleading guilty after Labor Day on single gambling business-related counts.

However, a check of the case on PACER reveals that only documents related to a plea deal for Ting have been filed to date; any such agreement between BoostedJ and federal prosecutors from Preet Bharara’a Eastern District of New York DOJ office remain unconfirmed.

Ting, who was one of the organizers of the NYC-area games centered on Vadim Trincher, one of the case’s most prominent defendants, will plead guilty to a single count of operating an illegal gambling business.  Smith, according to the unconfirmed NYDN report, will plead guilty to a single count of taking a payment for internet gambling; Smith is believed to have forwarded sports bets from other gambling acquaintances to members of the so-called “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization,” the hub of the NYC gambling group in the crackdown.  Ting was initially named on three of the case’s 27 counts, including a single charge of money-laundering conspiracy along with two charges connected to the Trincher poker games.

Ting’s confirmed plea deal represents the fourth in the case; Smith’s if confirmed, would be the fifth.  None of the case’s primary defendants have reached any sort of deal, with the more serious charges in the case involving money laundering, racketeering and extortion in addition to the various gambling-related offenses.  Besides Trincher’s famed high-stakes poker games, which drew an elite player clientele drawn from business leaders, sports and entertainment celebrities and well-heeled poker players, the majority of the gambling overseen by the operation was sportsbetting conducted via offshore sites.

Millions were also alleged to have been funneled to Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, known as Taiwanchik, the alleged head of the group.  (According to the indictment, Vadim Trincher was one of three US-based “underboss”-type figures — to borrow a mob term — who operated with Tokhtakhounov’s blessing and protection, and who helped send money skimmed from the various gambling operations to Tokhtakhounov.)

Tokhtakhounov’s international crime dossier is well-known; in addition to once making a Forbes Magazine top-ten most wanted list for his role in arms smuggling, he remains wanted by US authorities for his role in fixing the pairs figure skating event in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.  Tokhtakhounov was arrested in Italy not long after that, but was released before being subject to extradition efforts of the US.

The case’s reverberations continue bouncing throughout the poker world.  Vadim Trincher, a former WPT winner (2009 Foxwoods Poker Classic) faces numerous more severe charges, including racketeering conspiracy, IGBA-related gambling violations (international bookmaking), extortion, extortion conspiracy, money laundering and more.  Trincher’s son Ilya faces a similar slate, with Trincher’s other son, Eugene, facing somewhat fewer charges.

Among other well-known poker names, John Hanson faces the longest list of charges.  The indictment alleges Hanson’s involvement in a secondary sportsbetting ring centered on Vadim’s son, Illya, and is named on almost as many counts as the younger Trincher, including racketeering, money laundering, and various sportsbetting offenses.  Other known poker players who were charged for peripheral roles in the rings’ operations include Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, Alexander Katchaloff and Peter Feldman.

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