The long-running case stemming from the infamous April 15, 2011, Black Friday indictment against Absolute Poker founder Scott Tom was resolved on Sept. 28, with the former fugitive sent to jail for a week upon paying his $300,000 fine.
The sentence was part of a plea deal reached with US prosecutors on May 31.
Tom’s incarceration was a surprise, as his lawyer had requested time served for his misdemeanor sentence. But US Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses denied that wish and ordered him to jail. She was unswayed by the fact that Tom bought a non-refundable plane ticket to Antigua that left on Sept. 30, two days into his sentence.
The time was minimal considering the original charges had him facing several felony counts, including violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, and operation of an illegal gambling business. The charges carried a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. But the agreement his lawyers reached with authorities allowed him to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor.
Those who saw their accounts frozen might be disappointed that Tom didn’t face harsher penalties for absconding with their cash, but now, after a six-year wait, some players are starting to see refunds.
Players from other sites, such as PokerStars and Full Tilt received their account balances by 2015, but the parent company of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet, the Cereus Network, went bankrupt and couldn’t pay its players. These account funds were not included in the deal that allowed PokerStars to buy Full Tilt and make their jilted players whole.
However, $33.5 million from that deal did go unclaimed, and the DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section directed the leftover funds to pay up to 7,400 AP/UB players will get a share of the $33.5 million that has been approved by the of the Department of Justice.
Those players that made claims should receive their money by November, which will finally close the books on all players seeking a return of money that disappeared on Black Friday.
From Fugitive to Freedom
Upon being released from jail, Tom made no comment on his future plans and other than returning to Antigua, a Caribbean island currently embarking on its own recovery. He has no business interests in online gambling. Throughout the ordeal, which saw him return to the US in February to work on the plea deal, he has made no public statements.
The resolution of Tom’s case leaves only one remaining open indictment from the original 11 named on Black Friday. PokerStars founder and former owner Isai Scheinberg was the first person listed on the indictment, and he has yet to resolve pending criminal complaints.
He remains out of the country, but through his attorneys was instrumental in working with the DOJ to help settle civil charges and pay back players who had their accounts frozen in 2015.
This applied not just to customers of PokerStars, but also for players who thought they might’ve lost their money forever after trusting a business run by former jailbird Tom, who the US government now says he has paid his debt to society.