Bryan Micon, the poker player and former chairman of Bitcoin online poker site Seals with Clubs, is expected to return to the US this week to face a charge of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system.
Micon will have celebrity criminal defense attorney David Chesnoff as his legal counsel. Last week a judge recalled the arrest warrant issued in late April, which will permit Micon to travel to the hearing on Thursday.
Back in February, Micon’s Las Vegas home was raided by armed law enforcement officers right around the time that the Seals With Clubs website flat-lined, citing technical difficulties.
According to Micon, officers held a search warrant from the Nevada Gaming Commission relating to the activities of Seals With Clubs. Micon had computers and electronic equipment confiscated before being released without charge.
“I was handcuffed and lead out half naked onto my front lawn,” he said shortly afterward. “Over the next eight hours they stole most of my electronics, and of course this is seriously hindering to my output.”
Micon took a flight to Antigua while an announcement appeared on the Seals With Clubs website stating that the site would close due to threats to its “operational security” that had plunged SWC into “a perpetual state of jeopardy.”
From Antigua, Micon stressed via video blog that the closure of Seal With Clubs was unrelated to his recent brush with the Nevada Gaming Commission and that all they players would be repaid. He also announced that he would be resurrecting the site as swcpoker.eu.
“It’s unclear what happened,” said Micon. “The system is, of course, very secure and has thwarted hacking attempts in the past, so it’s unclear to me what, from a technical perspective, exactly went down, but the rest of Seals With Clubs management quit. They do not want to continue after this, and I do. So, Seals With Clubs will continue to wind down, cash outs will continue to be processed, all the bitcoins were saved.”
Possible Ten Years in Prison on Charge
“I was already planning a family trip to Antigua; to relax, play some online poker, explore some business ideas, so after I was lead out at gunpoint in my underwear it was pretty clear that it was proper to leave sooner rather than later,” Micon added. “I didn’t really want my two-year-old daughter, whom I love very much, to grow up in a police state, where creativity is often met with guns and handcuffs.”
However, it seems that Micon is now prepared return to the US to face the music. It helps, of course, that his lawyer is David Chesnoff, the man who recently succeeded in having the case against Malaysian high stakes poker player and businessman Paul Phua dismissed. Phua walked out of court a free man, having been accused by prosecutors of masterminding a multimillion dollar sports betting ring from Caesars Palace during the World Cup last summer.
FBI evidence blunders in the end helped Phua’s case lose traction, but Chesnoff is known as the go-to man for celebrity clients who have gotten themselves in a bit of a criminal legal pickle.
Should Chesnoff not weave his usual magic, however, Micon could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine if convicted on the charges.
This will be the first time that anyone has been prosecuted for operating an allegedly unlicensed gaming site that used Bitcoins as its currency.