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Art Dealer Pleads Guilty To Organizing Celebrity Poker Ring

An influential art dealer from New York plead guilty to a single federal charge of illegal gambling for his role of helping run a high end poker ring that involved several celebrities as well as the Russian mafia.

Hillel Nahmad plead guilty to the charge as part of a plea bargain that he and the US government negotiated. As part of that deal, Nahmad will also forfeit $6.4 million in cash, as well as a painting worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The art dealer may also face jail time, although he would be looking at 12 to 18 months maximum.

Although the fine appears to be quite heavy, Nahmad got off pretty well considering the circumstances. He had originally faced up to 92 years in prison as he was charged with racketeering, conspiracy, gambling, money laundering, and more.

Speaking to the court, Nahmad admitted his crimes, saying: “Judge, this all started as a group of friends betting on sports events, but I recognize that I crossed the line, and I apologize to the court and my family.”

US Attorney Preet Bharara also commented on the case, saying: “Hillel Nahmad headed an illegal sports gambling business with ties to a Russian-American organized crime ring. Nahmad bet that he would never get caught and he lost.”

The ring that Nahmad was accused of helping run reportedly involved high stakes poker games between celebrities and billionaires. The ring reportedly saw more than $100 million in wagers being placed during its lifetime.

Sentencing for Nahmad is scheduled for March 19th, 2014.

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