Two California men, 23-year-old Tyler Schrier and 39-year-old Keith James Hudson, were sentenced on Monday over attempts to extort professional poker players by threatening to post naked pictures and personal information stolen from their email accounts.
While he faced a maximum of 17 years imprisonment for his crimes, Schrier was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy, extortion and unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information. Hudson, on the other hand, faced a maximum of five years, but was sentenced to two years imprisonment after he also pleaded guilty to hacking into email accounts, stealing personally intimate photographs and working in conjunction with Schrier to extort professional poker players.
In court, Schrier also admitted that before this case he also extorted $26,000 from professional poker players after threatening to reveal information with regards to their online poker activities. Along with the two extortion threats, Schrier was also found to have stolen around $4,000 from players’ online poker accounts in 2012 while free on bond from the extortion case.
One poker player targeted by the extortionists was Californian Joe Sebok. The step son of three WSOP gold bracelet holder Barry Greenstein, Sebok was threatened by the men to give them hundreds of thousands of dollars or they would post intimate pictures of him along with his private details online. Sebok refused to give any money and Schrier sent a naked photograph of the player to around 100 people online in November 2010.
Speaking to the court during the trial, Sebok said that what the extortionists had done had shattered and changed his and other victims’ live in ways that he described as “irreparable”. Sebok, who has been playing professionally since 2005, also said that the publication of his details by the extortionists damaged his ability to make a sustainable living in the game of poker.
Sebok further described the entire situation he was forced to endure as a “nightmare” and that he felt he was unable to represent his sponsors in a manner he had done prior to the incidents taking place. He also said that he felt it dented his potential to represent other companies going forward. The situation also compounded what has been a rather difficult time for Sebok in poker. He was also greatly impacted by the infamous Black Friday, which led to his contract being terminated by UltimateBet in May 2011 as well as a reduced schedule of PokerRoad, a website owned by Sebok and Greenstein.
Along with Schrier and Hudson, a third person has also been charged with the extortion crimes. 22-year-old Ryder Finney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is set to receive his sentence later this year in Philadelphia. Like Hudson, Finney also faces a maximum of five years in prison. Despite this, it is likely Finney will receive considerably less than that given the less-than-maximum sentences handed down to Schrier and Hudson.