Brent Beckley, Absolute Poker Owner, Sentenced To 14 Months In Prison Over Bank Fraud

Internet Poker Site Owner Heading To Prison Over Bank Fraud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An owner of Absolute Poker, one of the three largest Internet poker companies, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on Monday after admitting to deceiving banks over the processing of gambling proceeds.

Brent Beckley, 32, joined Costa Rica-based Absolute Poker in 2003 and became its head of payment processing. Last December, he pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to break U.S. laws against gambling on the Internet. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Beckley deserved prison time despite his surrender and cooperation because "the sentence has to make clear that the government of the United States means business in these types of cases."

"I fooled myself into thinking that what I was doing was OK," Beckley told the judge.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have charged 11 people at the three biggest online poker companies: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. The U.S. government also seized their Internet domain names.

The chief of Full Tilt Poker, Raymond Bitar, surrendered to U.S. authorities earlier this month and pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal gambling and that the online poker operator defrauded its players.

The case is USA v. Tzvetkoff et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-0336.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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