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Press Release

Two More Defendants Plead Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Participating In Gambling Rings Connected To Organized Crime

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 that EDWIN TING and JUSTIN SMITH pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court for their respective roles in high-stakes illegal gambling businesses connected to organized crime enterprises. TING pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman to conducting an illegal gambling business, an illegal poker game. SMITH pled guilty before Judge Furman to accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, an illegal sportsbook.

TING and SMITH were 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.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Edwin Ting and Justin Smith ran high-stakes poker and sportsbook operations, respectively, that handled many millions of dollars in illegal gambling. They were part of an underground enterprise trying to be invisible to law enforcement. Their guilty pleas are an important step toward the resolution of this case.”

According to the Indictment, other documents filed in this case, and statements made at various conferences in this case:

TING ran a high-stakes illegal poker game in New York City from 2010 through 2013. At these games, the pots frequently reached tens of thousands of dollars or more. The operators of these games, including TING, collected percentages of the pots known as “rakes.” These poker games employed at least five or more people to assist with the operation of the games, payments of debts, and collection of debts.

SMITH 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.

TING and SMITH each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release. As part of his plea agreement, TING agreed to forfeit $2,000,000 to the United States. As part of his plea agreement, SMITH agreed to forfeit $500,000 to the United States. TING and SMITH are both scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Furman on January 7, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., respectively.

TING and SMITH are the fourth and fifth defendants to plead guilty in the case. The following defendants have previously pled guilty and will also be sentenced by Judge Furman:

  • Bryan Zuriff pled guilty on July 26, 2013 and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 25, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.;
  • William Barbalat pled guilty on August 14, 2013 and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 16, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.; and
  • Kirill Rapoport pled guilty on August 16, 2013 and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 18, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.

The charges against the remaining 29 defendants are merely accusations, and these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty

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

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. Attorneys Alexander Wilson and Christine Magdo of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit are responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

U.S. v. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, et al. Indictment

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-291