Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fourth Plea Deal in Trincher-Linked NYC Poker, Sportsbetting Prosecutions

A fourth plea deal is now pending in the Eastern District of New York prosecutions of a major sportsbetting and high-stakes poker ring that operated in New York City, and that included both prominent poker players and alleged links to Russian organized crime.  Edwin Ting, one of 34 defendants in the case, will plead guilty September 4th to a single gambling-business charge of helping organize the ring's poker games.

Ting was among a dozen or so defendants with noted poker tournament cashes, having won more than $80,000 in several East Coast events in recent years.  Ting's pending plea deal was first reported in a New York Daily News piece, which also claimed a similar deal is also pending for another minor defendant in the case, prominent player Justin "BooostedJ" Smith; however, the possible Smith deal cannot be confirmed at this time from online court dockets.

Ting was charged with helping to operate the high-stakes poker games centered around former WPT champion Vadim Trincher, who remains indicted on several more serious charges.  Those games were often held in Trincher's own high-rise, Trump Towers apartment, the same elite location over which Trincher filed a $6 million mold-damage lawsuit against Trump Towers management, alleging faulty plumbing repairs.

The sweeping indictments in the case, US v. Tokhtakhounov et al, allege that Trincher and other heads of the NYC-based syndicate operated under the protection and guidance of Russian organized crime boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov.  Tokhtakhounov, known as "Taiwanchik" and "Akim", was also tied to the celebrity West Coast games featuring several Hollywood actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and others) that were hosted and organized by Molly Bloom, another of the case's defendants.

Tokhtakhounov remains a fugitive from US justice, wanted international on arms-smuggling charges and domestically for his role in organizing an attempted fix of an Olympic event during the Salt Lake City Games.  The indictment alleges that millions were siphoned off from the poker and sportsbetting operations, and sent overseas to Tokhtakhounov and his other interests.

Ting's relatively minor role could still have netted him a five-year term, though he'll likely receive a much shorter sentence later this fall.  Ting becomes the fourth defendant of 34 indicted to plead guilty in the case, following similar deals for East Coasters William Barbalot and Kirill Rapoport and  a self-described Hollywood film producer, Bryan Zuriff, who was likely collected to the Bloom-run L.A. games.

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