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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Art dealer Helly Nahmad pleads guilty in illegal gambling case

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In April the FBI executed federal search warrants and indicted 34 men in connection with an illegal gambling ring that was busted across the United States — Helly Nahmad, a famous art dealer and owner of a prominent art gallery in New York City, was one of the key figures in the bust.

Nahmad entered a plea of guilty in federal court on Tuesday, November 12th, to one count of operating an illegal gambling enterprise.

The FBI's indictment against Nahmad and the other men is based on their connection to an illegal gambling ring that is tied to Russian organized crime. Some of those charged are well known poker players, including Abe Mosseri, Bill Edler, Vadim Trincher, Peter Feldman, Justin Smith, and John Hanson.

Nahmad's guilty plea admits that he organized an illegal sports gambling business and was the primary source of its funding. The gambling ring linked mostly to Russian wealthy bettors but Hollywood stars, Wall Street millionaires, and pro athletes were pulled into mix by playing in a high-stakes poker game.

The Nahmad family is one of the richest and most powerful art-dealing empires in the world. Forbes has estimated the net worth of the family to be close to $3 billion with Helly's father, David's, net worth is estimated at $1.75 billion.

The FBI indictment shows Helly Nahmad used his father's bank account in Switzerland to send two separate wire transfers — totaling $1.35 million — to a bank account in the U.S. The wire transfers are believed to have helped finance the gambling venture. Helly's father, David, was not named in the indictment.

"Judge, this all started as a group of friends betting on sports events," Nahmad said in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. "But I recognize that I crossed a line, and I apologize to the court and my family."

Of the 34 indictments, Nahmad is the 14th person to plead guilty. Nahmad will forfeit $6.4 million to the federal government and serve up to 18 months in jail under the terms of the plea agreement.

"Nahmad bet that he would never get caught and he lost," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

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