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Press Release

First Defendant Pleads Guilty For Role In Operation Of International Sportsbook Operated By Organized Crime Enterprise

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that BRYAN ZURIFF, a Hollywood producer, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court in connection with his role in the operation of a high-stakes illegal sports gambling business run by an organized crime enterprise. ZURIFF pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman to accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Bryan Zuriff spanned the coasts with his crimes, by operating his own illegal gambling enterprise in Los Angeles, and helping to operate a vast illegal gambling enterprise in New York. With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct.”

ZURIFF was charged in April 2013 in a 34-defendant indictment charging members and associates of two Russian-American organized crime enterprises with various crimes, including racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and various gambling offenses. ZURIFF is the first defendant in the case to plead guilty.

According to the Indictment, other documents filed in this case, statements made at various conferences and at the guilty plea, and other information in the public record:

ZURIFF operated his own illegal gambling business that catered to gamblers seeking to bet on the outcome of various sporting events (commonly referred to as a “sportsbook”) in Los Angeles, California. He also assisted Hillel Nahmad, Illya Trincher, and others in operating their own high-stakes sportsbook in New York that catered to millionaires and billionaires. Those clients typically placed bets online through various accounts maintained on gambling websites that were operating illegally in the United States. Tens of millions of dollars in bets were placed through those online accounts each year.

ZURIFF, 44, of Brentwood, California, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release. As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to forfeit $500,000 to the United States. ZURIFF is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Furman on November 25, 2013 at 3 p.m.

The charges against Hillel Nahmad, Illya Trincher, and the other 31 defendants in this case are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, and the New York City Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harris M. Fischman, Joshua A. Naftalis, Peter Skinner, and Kristy J. Greenberg of the Organized Crime Unit are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Wilson of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

Tokhtakhounov, Alimzhan et al. Indictment

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-249