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Absolute Poker co-founder pleads guilty

Brent Beckley was charged with violating U.S. laws against illegal gambling

Brent Beckley apparently knew when to fold. The co-founder of online gaming website Absolute Poker pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act as well as conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud eight months after U.S. prosecutors went all-in on a number of online poker websites.

Beckley faces one to 1 ½ years in jail time under the stipulated sentencing guidelines.

Federal prosecutors cracked down on a number of online poker websites this year in addition to Absolute Poker, including the most popular sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The government alleged the sites hid billions of dollars from users as payments to fake online retailers.

In September, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a suit accusing Full Tilt Poker’s board of directors Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Rafael Furst and Raymond Bitar of defrauding its online poker players out of more than $440 million. The DOJ alleges the board misrepresented that players’ funds were safe and available for withdrawal at any time when, in reality, those funds were not available and used to pay the board members and other owners.

As a result of this scandal, Full Tilt Poker’s outside counsel, Cozen O’Connor, also was slapped with a lawsuit alleging the firm knew or had reason to know that the more than $2 million in fees it made representing Full Tilt was derived from illegal sources.

The government is seeking $3 billion from the online poker sites in a separate civil suit.

For more on Absolute Poker, read the Wall Street Journal.

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