Extradited Israeli Fugitive Pleads Guilty
Operated gambling business in the counties of Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and others
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Yaniv Gohar, 36, formerly of Berkeley, pleaded guilty today to conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and failure to appear, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Gohar created and led an organization that installed and maintained video slot machines at businesses open to the public across Northern California. Gohar then created a system by which he could launder the proceeds of his lucrative gambling business, involving shell companies and paying cash to employees of a co-defendant’s business in exchange for money transfers from that co-defendant. In total, Gohar laundered at least $492,475 through his co-defendant’s business from Jan. 2015 through Dec. 2017. Gohar also laundered his gambling proceeds by acquiring a boat and real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Court documents also detail Gohar’s escape from the United States by charter jet through Mexico, France, and Israel. Gohar was first arrested on Dec. 8, 2017, in connection with his initial charges and released two weeks later on bond over the government’s objection. Four days later, he violated the terms of his release by failing to stop after allegedly crashing his Porsche Panamera into a parked car in Berkeley. He was cited by Berkeley police for reckless driving. On Jan. 3, 2018, he failed to appear for the violation hearing, and he remained at large for more than a year. In Sept. 2018, a superseding indictment charged Gohar with failure to appear and other offenses. Gohar was arrested and extradited from Israel in July 2019.
Finally, court documents detail threats that Gohar made to at least two witnesses in the investigation, including threatening to break the legs of a confidential source.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and California Department of Justice – Bureau of Gambling Control. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew M. Yelovich and Miriam R. Hinman are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Israeli authorities.Yaniv Gohar’s brother and co-defendant, Orel Gohar, 28, also fled the United States in December 2017 and remains at large. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should call the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (916) 746-7000.
Co-defendants Eran Buhbut, 34, of Oakland, pleaded guilty in August to conducting an illegal gambling business and awaits sentencing. Co-defendants May Levy, 28, of Walnut Creek, Atir Dadon, 34, of Sherman Oaks, Bar Shani, 27, of San Francisco, and Adam Atari, 35, of Sherman Oaks, have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Dadon and Shani are currently serving their sentences.
Co-defendant Raz Razla, 48, of Sherman Oaks, is charged with making false statements to the grand jury. The charge against Razla is only an allegation; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gohar is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on Dec. 13, 2019. Gohar faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for the illegal gambling offense, 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy, and five years in prison for failure to appear (to be served consecutively to the other sentences imposed). The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.