Black Friday indictee Ira Rubin appeared in a Manhattan federal courthouse on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to charges related to payment processing for online poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker between 2006 and March 2011. The 53-year-old Rubin pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, and participating in a money laundering conspiracy. Rubin admitted helping set up the system by which the online poker companies disguised payments (variously estimated as hundreds of millions to billions of dollars) as purchases of golf equipment, jewelry and other innocuous products from “nonexistent online merchants.”
Rubin, a US citizen but a resident of Costa Rica since 2008, was arrested in Guatemala on April 25, 2011, while reportedly attempting to transfer to a Thailand-bound flight. Although Rubin initially faced nine criminal counts with a potential maximum sentence of over 80 years in the slammer, he reached a deal with prosecutors in which they’ve recommended a sentence between 18 months and two years on the three counts to which Rubin confessed his guilt. However, the agreement is non-binding, and US District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan will reveal Rubin’s actual sentence on May 17.
Fellow Black Friday indictee Bradley Franzen pled guilty to similar fraud charges way back in May 2011, while Absolute Poker’s Brent Beckley pled guilty just before Christmas. Payment processing figures Chad Elie and John Campos are still planning to fight the charges against them, with their trial expected to commence in March. Six of the original 11 individuals indicted on Black Friday remain ‘at large.’
In other gambling courtroom drama, eight nosebleed poker players have filed a civil suit against companies and individuals connected with former leading online poker company UltimateBet. The suit, brought to light via Courthouse News Service’s Matt Reynolds, names 6356095 Canada Inc. aka Excapsa Software, plus 10 unidentified ‘John Does’ as defendants. The charges are largely a rehash of the ‘superuser’ cheating scandal of years past, in which UB employees used an “intentional security flaw” in the company’s poker software to observe the hole cards of other players between June 2003 and January 2008. (Read the full complaint here.)
The plaintiffs hail from the US, Canada and Peru, and include pro players Daniel Ashman and Brad Booth. Collectively, they accuse the defendants of RICO violations, conspiracy, fraud, negligence, unfair business practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and torturing small furry animals for pleasure (not really). The defendants claim to have been victimized to the tune of $2m, but they’re seeking treble damages, $10m in punitive damages, plus court costs. Since Excapsa has been trapped in liquidation hell for years now, the end result of this suit is likely to be counted less in terms of how much compensation these eight poker players receive, and more in terms of how many trees had to be destroyed to print these lengthy court documents (although the complaint’s misspelling of Phil Hellmuth’s name as “Hellmouth” provided an ironic chuckle).