On April 15th 2011 the online poker world changed forever. That day is known as Black Friday and it’s the day that the top US poker sites were seized by the US DoJ. Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet made up the Cereus Poker Network and both sites were apart of the Black Friday fiasco in the United States. It quickly became apparent that the Cereus Poker Network was hard on cash and that players were most likely going to not be repaid any of the money that they were owed.
It was just reported that Brent Beckley had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. Beckley is a co-founder of Absolute Poker and he is the 2nd person to work out a plea deal with the US DoJ so far. Beckley was initially facing a long list of charges that included the operation of an online gambling company, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to violating the UIGEA.
Beckley was living in Costa Rica, but is a US citizen. Beckley just recently traveled back to the USA (December 19th) according to a press release that was released by the US DoJ. Beckley worked out a plea deal and it’s expected that he will spend roughly 18 months behind bars although that’s much better than the 30+ years he was looking at initially. Beckley was the co-founder of Absolute Poker and dealt with payment processing department.
Beckley confessed that he knew it was illegal to accept credit card payments from US players. He also confessed that he knew it was wrong to deceive the banks in the USA. Payment processors were setting up 100’s of shell companies to process payments in the United States for online poker companies, but it all came falling down on Black Friday. Beckley actually ended up with a good plea deal in my opinion and we might see more of the individuals indicted on Black Friday go down this route with the US DoJ.
The other individual that has signed a plea deal with the US DoJ is Bradley Franzen. Franzen was allegedly operating a payment processor and was contacted by an online poker room in 2009. Franzen started opening up shell companies and processing the payments for the poker room until he was caught.
Franzen signed a plea deal in hopes of receiving a reduced sentence, but it hasn’t been announced what his sentence will be. Apart of Franzen’s deal also states that he has to cooperate with the US DoJ if they need him to testify against other individuals. Players with money on the Cereus Poker Network most likely won’t receive any of their funds and I’m sure they aren’t very pleased with the decision to workout plea deals with the individuals responsible for this mess.