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Helly Nahmad released from prison early; Feds want $13m from Phua defendants

TAGs: hillel nahmad, paul phua, sports betting, taiwanchik-trincher organization

paul-phua-hillel-nahmad-dojNew York art dealer Hillel ‘Helly’ Nahmad (pictured, on the left) has been let out of prison after serving five months of a 12-month sentence for his involvement in an illegal gambling operation. Nahmad was one of 34 individuals indicted in April 2013 in what the US Department of Justice dubbed the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, an international illegal sports betting operation that catered to wealthy clients.

Originally charged with racketeering, fraud and money laundering, Nahmad pled guilty in November 2013 to a single charge of operating an illegal gambling business. In addition to drumming up sports betting customers, Nahmad hosted a high-stakes poker game in his Trump Tower apartment that reportedly catered to many of Nahmad’s Hollywood friends. In April, Judge Jesse M. Furman sentenced Nahmad to one year and one day. Nahmad began serving his time in June but has since been moved to a halfway house in the Bronx.

Over in Nevada, the federal agencies who broke up the Paul Phua-led online sports betting operation this summer are reportedly seeking $13m in asset forfeitures from the defendants. Court papers filed last week indicate that the $13m the feds are looking to retain includes $650k in cash and casino chips, four dozen cell phones and 17 iPads and computers.

Phua (pictured right) and seven other defendants were arrested in July following FBI raids on three luxury villas at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Late last week, five of the defendants reached plea deals with prosecutors and charges against a sixth were dropped, leaving only Phua and his son Darren still actively fighting the charges. The FBI raid has outraged civil libertarians, who object to the FBI shutting off the internet in the villas, then sending in agents dressed as repairmen to secretly film the betting activity.

Three defendants – Yan Zhang, Yung Keung Fan and Herman Chun Sang Yeung – will plead guilty to misdemeanor charges on Tuesday while two others – Richard Yong and Hui Tang – will face the judge on Wednesday. Yong is also looking at a misdemeanor while Tang has agreed to a felony gambling charge. The five are under the impression they will be sentenced to probation then allowed to return to their homes in China and Malaysia.

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