More news from Maryland involving the numerous individuals caught up in the US Dept. of Justice crusade against online poker eCom operations. The latest report uncovered by the Baltimore City Paper involves Martin Loftus, who on Jan. 19 pleaded guilty in US District Court to one count of laundering almost $1.5m related to online gambling — specifically, Full Tilt Poker — via a company called HMD Inc.
Earlier this month, James Davitt (Loftus’ partner in ‘crime’) also pleaded guilty to making “arrangements with representatives of Full Tilt Poker to make payments by checks to gamblers in Maryland and elsewhere.” Both men are reportedly cooperating with US Attorneys in Maryland and New York in ongoing investigations of online poker eCom.
Also cooperating is Michael Garone, who pleaded guilty to money laundering in 2008, but received a sentence of only one year’s probation for his help with what US Attorney Richard Kay called “rather extensive undercover operations.” In fact, the recently published transcript of Garone’s December sentencing hearing reveals that Garone voluntarily informed prosecutors that “there was an additional account that we had missed,” and from which the funds were promptly seized and forfeited.
Garone went on to participate “in a number of lengthy debriefings” with agents from the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, a trial attorney from the DoJ RICO (racketeering) section, and a federal prosecutor in New York “who is investigating a related case.” According to Kay, Garone’s info has allowed the feds to seize “more than $60m over the past three years. So it has been very productive.”
Lucrative, too, considering the feds keep all those millions to fund further investigations of this sort, which will bring in more millions, and so on, and so on… A cynic might say that there’s good reason the UIGEA never made the actual playing of online poker illegal, as that might have stopped the flow of money where it originates, with the players. Instead, players are permitted to fund their online accounts, and the feds only step in when the poker rooms respond to players requesting withdrawals from their accounts. With the US national debt now a staggering $14 trillion and budget cuts imminent, more government agencies may be forced to adopt the DoJ’s DIY ‘funding’ model.