AP co-founder pleads guilty to Black Friday charges

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 20, 2011 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

While it’s not the first domino to fall in the Black Friday scandal, the recent guilty plea by Absolute Poker co-founder Brent Beckley could very well prove to be one of the most important. According to an AP article that hit the Internet today, Beckley, who is 31 years-old, entered his guilty plea in the US District Court in Manhattan as part of a plea-bargain deal orchestrated by his attorneys.

Facing up to 30 years in prison, Beckley is expected to receive a sentence in the 1 to 1.5-year range, which is an indication that he is working with the Department of Justice to further their cases against other Black Friday defendants; many of whom have yet to be apprehended.

Beckley admitted to Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis that he knowingly deceiving banks in order to get his online poker company’s transactions processed, and admitted to hiring Ira Rubin (another person named in the original Black Friday Indictments) to process these payments –which were disguised as online merchant payments. The AP is reporting that Ira Rubin’s attorney also stated his client would enter a guilty plea.

The first defendants to go to trial, Chad Elie and John Campos, were much more defiant, with both men entering not-guilty pleas at their arraignment back in November. Both men claimed that poker does not fall under UIGEA legislation because poker is a game of skill. However, this assertion was shot down by the DOJ who released an in-depth response to Elie’s and Capos’ assertions. The main point of contention is that the pair knowingly committed bank fraud (based on Beckley’s testimony and guilty plea the case against this will hold very little water). The DOJ claims the two did not violate UIGEA, but violated a number of other US laws in order to avoid the pesky legislation.

This could be a game-changer for Elie, Campos, and other defendants since Beckley’s admission shows the higher-ups in the US-facing online poker sites and the payment processors were aware that they were skirting US laws, something that has been brought up as a possible defense against the UIGEA charges (since online poker is not explicitly named as an illegal activity). With Beckley’s admission this defense has basically gone out the window as prosecutors will have Bueckley’s testimony as a precedent. This will be even truer should Ira Rubin make the same admission as he was on the other side of the transactions.

Overall, it looks like a very bad day for anyone implicated in Black Friday, and should more and more people continue to cooperate with the DOJ there could also be a whole new laundry list of names who are also criminally charged.

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