Molly Bloom, the so-called ‘poker princess’ who organized high-stakes underground poker games for Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and Wall Street fat cats, pled guilty to a charge of operating an illegal gambling business in a Manhattan court on Thursday. Bloom was one of 34 individuals indicted by US federal authorities in April for the illegal sports betting and poker activities of the so-called Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, named for its two principal ringleaders, Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher. The latter pled guilty to racketeering last month, agreeing to forfeit cash and property worth $20m while facing a possible 20-year prison term when he’s sentenced on March 20.
The 35-year-old Bloom admitted to the court that she ran high-stakes poker games out of a suite at The Plaza hotel in New York until she was roughed up in 2010 by two “eastern European thugs,” after which she went back to Los Angeles, where she ran invitation-only games at which the players were said to include such notables as Leonardo Dicaprio and Ben Affleck. Bloom, who has already inked a tell-all book deal with a division of HarperCollins, agreed to forfeit $125k and faces a maximum six-month stint in stripes when she’s sentenced on April 30.
Bloom is the 24th defendant in the case to plead guilty, following similar ‘okay, you got me’ moves last week by four other defendants. Noah Siegel, Moshe Oratz and Jonathan Hirsch all pled guilty to transmission of wagering information in interstate commerce, while Michael Sall pled guilty to interstate travel in aid of an unlawful activity (illegal gambling). Sall’s role in the ring was to invest the illegal gambling proceeds into various legitimate instruments such as real estate and hedge funds.
Siegel and Hirsch are looking at a maximum of two years in prison when they’re sentenced on April 10, while Oratz faces the same fate at his April 8 sentencing. The three have agreed to forfeit $400k, $80.6k and $325k respectively. Sall, who agreed to forfeit $1.3m, is looking at a five-year sentence when he goes before Judge Jesse M. Furman on April 9. In total, the defendants who have entered guilty pleas have agreed to forfeit a combined $68m. So far, television producer Bryan Zuriff is the only defendant to have actually been sentenced, receiving a two-year probationary term and a $20k fine in addition to the $500k he agreed to forfeit in July.