Poker player turned con man, Ali Fazeli will spend 18-months behind bars in federal prison for cheating investors out of $6.2m in a ticket resale scam after a Californian judge dropped the gavel this week.
Money flows into poker from many tributaries, and this week we were reminded of two of them: marijuana and sporting ticket scams. A day after we reported on Micah Raskin’s guilty plea for his role in distributing marijuana from California to the trifecta of Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Virginia, we have news of another court case involving a man who liked to play poker with dodgy money.
The authorities arrested, Ali Fazeli (real name Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli), on Valentine’s Day in connection with a ticketing scam that is said to have earned him upwards of $6.2m, and this week U.S. District Judge David O. Carter handed out his sentence.
It seems Fazeli got away lightly, after pleading guilty last summer to one count of wire fraud that could have landed him in jail for 20-years. Instead, Judge Carter handed him an 18-month stint in federal prison followed by six-months house confinement. Fazeli has also been ordered to repay $7.5m in restitution, but that seems as likely as Fazeli upping sticks and joining the French Foreign Legion.
The court heard how the 49-year-old from California swindled money from a series of investors between 2006 and 2007 on the promise that he would make them rich buying and selling tickets to prominent sporting events.
Republican donor Mel Sembler handed him $5m, and poker players Erik Seidel, John Juanda and Zachary Clark handed over $1.3m between them. Fazeli told them he would purchase 2017 Super Bowl and 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets before reselling them for a profit, but his company, Summit Entertainment never bought a single ticket.
The US District Court for the Central District of California, in Santa Ana, heard how at least $1.8m of the haul ended up in his ARIA vault, which he used to play in the casino, including the ARIA High Roller circuit.
Fazeli has earned more than $2.2m playing live tournaments, including three wins in ARIA High Roller events in 2016 beating the former World Champion, Joe McKeehen, Bill Klein, and Sean Winter in heads-up action to book notable six-figure wins.
After his sentencing, Fazeli is alleged to have said that he was, “sick to my stomach to make me think how much I’ve violated the law and disgraced my family.”
The ARIA also sued Fazeli for an outstanding line of credit ringing in at $1.1m.