Absolute Poker Cofounder Scott Tom Pleads Guilty to a Single Misdemeanor Count
In late February, Absolute Poker founder Scott Tom returned to the United States to face charges from the Department of Justice's Black Friday investigation six years ago.
The charges included conspiracy to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, violation of the UIGEA and operation of illegal gambling business with each individual charge carrying potential penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Tom left his home in Costa Rica in 2011, which does have an extradition treaty with the United States for Antigua, which does not have such a treaty in place.
That all changed in February when according to Reuters, Tom returned to the United States to face the charges. He pled not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond.
According to Flushdraw, the matter will be resolved on Sept. 28 when U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses will impose a sentence on Tom after he and his attorney James Henderson agreed to a deal with U.S. Southern District of New York prosecutors. The deal, which included Tom pleading guilty to a single misdemeanor count of accessory after the fact in connection with the transmission of gambling information, was agreed upon on May 31 and filed in court last week.
Tom's stepbrother Brent Beckley was among the 11 people charged in the famous Black Friday case known as USA v. Tzvetkoff. Beckley faced the music early and pled guilty to criminal charges, including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. These charges could have resulted in a maximum of 30 years in prison.
He was sentenced to a fine and 14 months in prison which he eventually served 10 months of in a Colorado work camp after admitting he knowingly broke the law when Absolute Poker disguised deposits and withdrawals to banks to facilitate gambling funds.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the case wanted to send a message with the prison term "to make clear that the government of the United States means business in these types of cases."
Flushdraw Contributing Editor Haley Hintze suggests that Tom's sentence is likely to be less than that of his stepbrother and may not serve time behind bars.
"Scott Tom’s probable escape from a lengthy jail term is implied by the language of the plea agreement, but a significant fine is likely involved," Hintze said. "The primary reason Tom is likely to avoid harsher punishment is that the SDNY charges based on the 2006 UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) are legally focused on the U.S. banking system."