Back in April, the FBI indicted 34 individuals for their connection with an illegal high-stakes gambling ring that had ties to Russian organized crime. Two of those indictees — William Barbalat and Kirill Rapoport — entered guilty pleas this week for their involvement according to an announcement released today by Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The two men's guilty pleas admitted to conducting an illegal gambling business and aiding in unlawful activity in illegal poker games.
The indictments were a result of the FBI's Eurasian Organized Crime Squad federal search warrants and more than one well-known poker players were charged; the list includes Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, Vadim Trincher, Peter Feldman, and John Hanson.
Barbalat and Rapoport are each accused of running illegal high-stakes poker games in New York City from 2010 through 2012 and 2012 through 2013 according to the indictment. It's illegal to rake a poker pot in New York State; with cash games that found tens of thousands of dollars in the pot, the operators of the games — including Barbalat and Rapoport — raked the games.
According to reports circulating, pro athletes, Wall Street millionaires, and numerous Hollywood stars were players in the high-stakes poker games.
Bharara's press release said: "For three years, William Barbalat and Kirill Rapoport oversaw illegal gambling enterprises in the Southern District of New York. With their pleas, we move closer to holding to account all those who participated in this wide-ranging network of criminal conduct linked to organized crime."
Bryan Zuriff was the first defendant to plead guilty in the case. Zuriff, the executive producer of Ray Donovan, a Showtime drama, pled guilty in Los Angeles last month to running an illegal sports book. Judge Jesse M. Furman will preside over Zuriff's sentencing on November 25th, 2013.
Barbalat agreed to forfeit $150,000 to the United States and will face sentencing on December 16th, 2013 by Judge Furman. Rapaport will be sentenced on December 18th, 2013 and agreed to forfeit $250,000. Both men each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison with three years of supervised release.