Another tally in the win column can be counted in the “Black Friday” indictments by the United States Department of Justice with yesterday’s sentencing of another key figure in the case.
In U. S. District Court in New York, Ira Rubin, a former payment processor for the online companies indicted in the April 2011 case, appeared before Judge Lewis Kaplan to learn what would be his fate. Rubin, who pled guilty in January to conspiracy charges of illegal gambling, wire and bank fraud and money laundering, was facing significant jail time for his work in ensuring payments to three of the top online poker sites – PokerStars, Full Tilt Pokerand the CEREUS Network rooms Absolute Poker and UB.com – would go through, masking them as legitimate purchases from retailers.
Discussions between the government’s legal team and Rubin’s attorneys had recommended to Judge Kaplan that Rubin would receive a sentence in the 18 to 24 month range. What Judge Kaplan actually handed down was much more severe.
Judge Kaplan sentenced Rubin to a three year prison term, the longest sentence of any received who have appeared in court regarding the April indictments. Citing Rubin’s previous escapades, Kaplan stated that Rubin was “an unreformed conman and fraudster. A significant sentence is necessary to protect the community.” Judge Kaplan was derisive of Rubin, stating that he would emerge from prison “trying to cook up some new scheme that in all likelihood will be illegal.”
As Judge Kaplan handed down his sentence, Rubin appeared to try to make amends to the judge and the legal system. “I know this is my last chance to have a productive life,” Rubin stated to Judge Kaplan during the sentencing. “I’m 54 years old and I’m tired of running. I just want to go home to my family.”
Rubin will receive credit for his time already served and could be released after 31 months on good behavior.
There were two interesting caveats in Judge Kaplan’s sentence. One was that Rubin pay a $5 million fine, while the second was that Rubin have no participation in any business related to payment processing or financial services. Rubin’s defense attorneys attempted to show that he was destitute – he would be living with his parents for the first time since his youth and they would be supporting him financially – but federal lawyers were able to persuade Judge Kaplan that Rubin had stashed a great deal of money in foreign countries, particularly Costa Rica.
The story of Ira Rubin has been one of questionable actions. In 2006, Rubin was arrested for his involvement in a telemarketing scam that crossed the border between Canada and the U. S. After being released on bail, Rubin skipped out and fled to Costa Rica, where he had been living up until “Black Friday.” In the telemarketing scam, Rubin was convicted in absentia in 2008 and ordered to pay an $8 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission which, to this date, has gone unpaid.
Rubin was on the run again when the federal indictments came down in April 2011. Just days after the announcement of the “Black Friday” indictments, Rubin went to Guatemala and attempted to obtain a false passport to flee to Thailand. It was in Guatemala that U. S. law enforcement tracked down Rubin, initially sending him back to Miami before his eventual incarceration in New York to await his fate.
As stated earlier, the three year sentence for Rubin is the longest of those who have been caught, with all of them pleading guilty (as did Rubin). Just recently, Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker received a 14 month prison term; John Campos, a former bank Vice Chairman who allowed his bank to process gaming transactions, received a three month sentence; Chad Elie has pled guilty to his charges but is still awaiting sentencing; and Bradley Franzen also pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing amid rumors that he has cooperated with authorities and may receive a lighter sentence.
Still awaiting his first hearing on his charges is former Full Tilt Poker Chief Executive Officer Ray Bitar, who voluntarily returned to the United States and was immediately arrested. The other original indictees – PokerStars’ Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate, Nelson Burtwick of Full Tilt and Scott Tom of Absolute Poker – remain at large.