| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 28 A former employee of online
gambling company PokerStars avoided prison on Monday after
pleading guilty in connection with a long-running U.S. criminal
case targeting internet poker firms operating illegally in the
Paul Tate, a UK citizen living on the Isle of Man who
formerly oversaw payment processing at PokerStars, had faced up
to five years in prison after pleading guilty in October to
participating in the operation of an illegal gambling business.
But U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan instead
ordered him merely to forfeit $119,000, crediting Tate for
facing the charges rather than remaining on the Isle of Man,
where he could have avoided extradition.
"Given that you couldn't be extradited for this, you deserve
a world of credit for coming to face the music," Kaplan said.
Tate told the judge: "I very much regret the choices I have
Tate, 43, was one of 11 people indicted on April 15, 2011, a
day dubbed "Black Friday" by the industry, in connection with a
U.S. crackdown that targeted online poker companies Full Tilt
Poker, Absolute Poker and PokerStars.
The three companies had become the largest online poker
outfits doing business in the United States after Congress
banned real-money gambling on internet card games in 2006.
Prosecutors also accused the companies of money laundering.
According to prosecutors, the companies tricked banks into
processing billions of dollars of illegal Internet gambling
proceeds through shell companies that appeared legitimate.
Isle of Man-based PokerStars in 2012 reached a $731 million
settlement, including $547 million to reimburse U.S. customers
of Full Tilt Poker, which was coming under PokerStars' control.
Tate worked for PokerStars until 2014, when it was acquired
by Canada-based Amaya Inc.
Nine of other individuals charged in the case have also
pleaded guilty. Charges remain pending against Isai Scheinberg,
The case is U.S. v. Tzvetkoff et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-00336.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York)