Bloomberg News

Online Poker Defendant’s Crimes Date to 1970s, U.S. Says

June 08, 2011

(Updates with judge’s comments in fourth paragraph.)

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- A man charged with helping process payments for an illegal online gambling business was ordered held without bail after a prosecutor said his criminal history dated back more than three decades.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott, in New York, said today he couldn’t be satisfied there were any bail conditions that would ensure that Ira Rubin, 53, of Costa Rica, would return to court to face federal charges. Prosecutors say Rubin was trying to flee to Thailand at the time of his arrest in April.

Rubin is accused of helping process payments for PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, the leading online poker sites doing business with U.S. customers. Charged with nine counts, including conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, Rubin faces as long as 30 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

“There are unlimited reasons I cannot consent to the defendant’s release,” Cott said. “I think I have no choice but to detain the defendant.” Rubin had asked that he be granted $300,000 bond and be allowed to live with his parents in Florida.

Prosecutors allege that after the U.S. enacted a law in 2006 barring banks from processing payments to offshore gambling websites, PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute worked around the ban to continue operating in the U.S.

Fake Golf Store

Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said Rubin “helped offshore Internet poker companies move billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds” disguised as phony Internet merchants. The shell companies Rubin created included a fake golf store and electronics business, Devlin-Brown said.

“He’s an extreme flight risk because he’s already done it once before,” Devlin-Brown said.

Rubin’s criminal record dates back “to the 1970s” and includes at least 24 different crimes, the prosecutor said. Devlin-Brown said Rubin has outstanding warrants and criminal cases in Nevada, Massachusetts, Missouri, Florida, New York and Virginia.

“These are very old matters. I think they’re pre-1995,” said Stuart Meissner, Rubin’s lawyer.

“It’s old, but it’s long,” Cott said.

Rubin fled the U.S. in 2008 after a federal judge issued an arrest warrant stemming from a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission for operating a fraudulent telemarketing business, Devlin-Brown said. Even after his wife became ill in the U.S. and died, Rubin didn’t return, Devlin-Brown said.

Chartered Plane

On April 15, the day Rubin was named in a federal indictment with 10 others in the poker case, he chartered a plane from Costa Rica to Guatemala on his way to Thailand, Devlin-Brown said.

“The evidence, despite what the government says, is highly questionable,” Meissner told Cott, citing the prosecution’s reliance on jailhouse informants.

Meissner said after the hearing that he would speak to his client about making a bail application before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case.

“This entire case is a little bit of overkill,” Meissner said. “I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer resources. We’ll fight the charges.”

The case is U.S. v. Rubin, 10-CR-336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

--Editors: Andrew Dunn, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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