Brent Beckley, Absolute Poker's vice president in charge of processing payments, was handed a 14-month prison sentence Monday for facilitating payments between poker players and financial institutions in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
The sentencing was administered by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who initially felt that Beckley deserved considerably more than the 12-18 months that was submitted to the judge as a guideline by prosecutors in light of plea bargain negotiations. U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys assured the judge that Beckley cooperated fully and that no financial institutions were harmed by his actions. The judge then had a change of heart, doling out prison time that leaned toward leniency, but making sure that Beckley spends some time in the slammer "to make clear that the government of the United States means business in these types of cases," Reuters reported.
The 32-year-old Beckley pled guilty last December and admitted to deceiving banks into processing transactions that were made illegal in 2006 by the UIGEA. He was part of a scheme that set up phony companies selling such items as flowers and sporting goods online in order for banks to believe that the payments being processed were not going to offshore poker sites. "I fooled myself into thinking that what I was doing was OK," Beckley told the judge.
Beckley and 10 other individuals were charged in April 15, 2011 indictments along with the top three online poker sites at the time of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker. Also previously sentenced by Judge Kaplan was John Campos, a banker in Utah, who admitted to facilitating payments for the Internet poker sites. Campos got only three months in jail and can never work for U.S. banks again.
Four others of those named in the Black Friday allegations have copped plea deals and are awaiting sentencing. Ira Rubin, Chad Elie, Bradley Franzen and Ryan Lang have cooperated with the DOJ and have admitted guilt to various charges including bank and wire fraud conspiracy and violating the UIGEA. Beckley is the half-brother of Scott Tom, an AP co-founder also named in the indictments, who has yet to face the allegations against him and remains at large.