34 plead Not Guilty in Russian Mob Gambling Ring

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Earlier this week, FBI agents served indictments to 34 people connected to a high stakes gambling ring with alleged Russian mob ties. Most of the indicted are charged with participating in an illegal gambling operation and/or money laundering.

Yesterday, in Federal District Court, all of the accused entered a not guilty plea in front of Judge Jesse M. Furman. Some of those who stood before Furman include noted poker pros Abe Mosseri and Bill Edler, Molly “The Poker Princess” Bloom and Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov – the alleged ringleader of the operation.

Tokhtakhounov is rumored to lead the Taiwanchik-Trincher crime organization. He gained international fame back in 2002 after trying to bribe Winter Olympics figure skating judges. He was arrested in Italy but later freed after an Italian court refused his extradition.

Bloom is also quite famous since she organized a high stakes poker ring that featured several high-profile celebrities. Hollywood actors Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were just a few of those involved in the poker ring.

Mosseri landed in the poker headlines after winning a 2009 WSOP $2,500 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw tournament ($165,513). He’s also one of the biggest online poker winners ever with over $4 million in profits. As for Edler, he won a 2007 WSOP $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament ($904,672) along with the 2007 WPT Gulf Coast Poker Championship ($747,615). Thanks to these wins and others, Edler has accumulated $3,449,004 in live tournament winnings.

It may be difficult for some of the indicted gambling ring members to prove their innocence because the US Attorneys’ Office has quite a bit of evidence. They had the FBI issue indictments after gathering 25,000 phone calls from nine tapped cell phones. The Attorneys’ Office also searched email accounts, homes, businesses, computers and bank accounts.

Not all of the accused are expected to be found guilty. Some of the indicted such as Edler and Mosseri are merely thought to have participated in the poker games and sports betting, rather than running the operation. The trial for the gambling ring members is set to begin on June 9th, 2013.

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