She described herself as the “LeBron James of poker,” whatever that means. She certainly isn’t as tall as he is and has way more hair. Whatever her reasons, Geeta Singh became known as the madam of a Greenwich Village, New York underground poker game before her reign came to an end recently. Singh led the games, which had ties to drug trafficking, before her arrest in Atlanta, Georgia and subsequent extradition to New York. She appeared before a judge in an arraignment hearing last week, where she pleaded not guilty to six counts of gambling promotion, and was given a get out of jail free card while she waits for her day in court. The allegations of drug trafficking were not brought up during her arraignment.
A sting operation helped build the case against Singh and her accomplice, 52-year-old David Diaz. The investigation was led by the New York Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which determined that the two were leading several games with varying buy-ins starting at $200. The poker tables were open daily from 4 PM to 4 AM and reportedly brought in “tens of thousands of dollars” each night.
Diaz was allegedly the mastermind behind both the poker and the drug trafficking. Below him, 38-year-old Benjamin Guerrero managed a “drug stash apartment” and acted as the pit boss at the games. Singh managed and promoted the activity from her home in Atlanta. She would communicate with potential players via the “Meetup” social network and provide them with an exclusive password that would allow them to get into the building where the games were held.
The sting operation ultimately netted 32 people in New York, Georgia, Florida and Massachusetts. The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of ICE led the investigation and HSI Special Agent Angel Melendez said of the arrests, “Those arrested today are not just alleged to have been involved in selling highly addictive drugs on city streets, but they are also connected with a sophisticated underground gambling operation right here in Manhattan.”
Undercover agents began purchasing illegal drugs from two members of the drug ring in November of last year. They were busted and one ultimately wore a wiretap, which allowed the investigators to link the poker game with the drug trafficking operations.
While some drug sales took place close to where the games where held, the majority were recorded in East Village. According to investigators, sales of up to $5,000 at a time were purchased by the undercover agents and the agents were able to purchase a total of $50,000 in drugs before law enforcement decided to drop the net over the operations.