Scott Tom Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor in 2011 Absolute Poker Wire Fraud Case

Absolute Poker Scott Tom Pleads Guilty

Absolute Poker and its sister site, Ultimate Bet, faced a scandal in 2007 when players learned that someone could see their hole cards.

Scott Tom, the co-founder of Absolute Poker, walked away from his Black Friday online poker indictment with a single misdemeanor. Scott Tom faced multiple felony charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering and illegal gambling, when he came to the United States in February to face charges.

Scott Tom’s appearance before a New York City federal court back in February was a surprise to Absolute Poker’s victims. It had been nearly 6 years since Tom Scott had been indicted by Preet Bharara of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Black Friday Indictments

The indictment came on the same day that the domain’s for Absolute Poker, PokerStars, and FullTilt Poker were seized by the US Justice Department. The seizure of domains and freezing of player funds caused the American poker player community to dub the events of April 15, 2011 as “Black Friday”.

Things got blacker for the customers of Absolute Poker and FullTilt Poker when they realized that neither website had the operating funds to cover player accounts — a feduciary duty of gaming websites.

Eventually, PokerStars (which had the proper operating funds) bought out FullTilt Poker and covered its debts to customers. Absolute Poker was not saved with a buyout, so its customer simply lost their poker playing funds.

Accessory After the Fact

Despite that, US Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses agreed to a plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count of being an “accessory after the fact to the transmission of wagering funds“. To those who lost thousands upon thousands of dollars in the case, the plea bargain is certain to rankle.

Could Receive up to 2 Years

Those concerned that Scott Tom is going to walk scot free should note that sentencing has not happened. Under the law, Judge Moses could sentence Scott Tom up to 2 years in prison for the misdemeanor. Few believe that will happen.

Earlier this year, new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to Justice Department officials, stating they had to pursue the maximum mandatory sentence in drug cases. That was in “drug cases” only, though, so Judge Moses has free rein to provide a much lower sentence. Given the plea bargain, that likely will be the case.

Scott Tom Forfeited All Property from Absolute Poker

Under terms of the agreement, Scott Tom is supposed to forfeit “any and all property” he generated from his illegal gaming activities. Since that money is held in offshore accounts and is tied up in offshore properties, it is hard to say how much Mr. Tom will forfeit.

Brent Beckley’s 14-Month Sentence

Tom’s Absolute Poker co-founder and business partner, Brent Beckley, was sentenced to 14 months in prison when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2012. Those were much more serious crimes, so the chance that Scott Tom gets 14 months is not great.

Absolute Poker players have a chance to receive restitution, though. In April 2017, the Justice Department announced there are enough funds in the FullTilt Poker restitution process to create a compensation program for the Absolute players.

Absolute Poker Resistitution Program

At the time, the Justice Department noted that the restitution program would seek to pay “eligible victims of a fraud committed by Absolute Poker“. No time table has been announced by the Justice Department for the repayment of restitution. After 6 years, players likely will not grouse about the time or amount of payment, though.