Alleged $22 Million Fraud May Have Helped Dennis Blieden Win WPT Title

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Poker player Dennis Blieden may have won a World Poker Tour (WPT) title with ill-gotten gains according to fraud charges brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Dennis Blieden $22 million fraud
Poker player and accountant Dennis Blieden has been charged with stealing $22 million in company funds. (Image: WPT)

Indicting the Nevada native on July 10, the DOJ believes Blieden defrauded a former employer for $22 million.

Taking place over a four-year period between 2015 and 2019, the alleged crime saw the accountant use stolen funds to buy cryptocurrencies and play poker.

Dennis Blieden Accused of Bluffing Company Bosses

According to the DOJ, the former vice president of finance at social media company StyleHaul used more than $8 million for poker. Looking into wire transfers and checks written by Blieden, over $7 million was transferred to poker players.

Additionally, the 29-year-old reportedly spent millions playing live and online. Although unconfirmed, at least $10,000 of the money allegedly stolen may have been used to enter the 2018 WPT LA Poker Classic.

Taking place inside the Commerce Casino, the event saw Blieden top a 493-player field and win $1 million. That win was not only his first WPT title but earned the aspiring pro a place in the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl.

Commenting on Blieden’s WPT win, PokerGo commentator Andy Frankenberger praised the Las Vegas resident’s “heart” and “bravery.”

If the DOJ’s charges hold up and court and Blieden is found guilty, it’s easy to see why he was so brave. For allegedly playing with someone else’s money, he now faces up to 200 years in prison.

As per the arrest documents, Blieden faces 11 counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and two counts of forfeiture.

Internal Investigation Launched Prior to WPT Win

In support of the charges, the DOJ will use evidence from an internal investigation carried out by StyleHaul. After discovering accounting irregularities in March 2018, a review of the company books found millions in missing funds.

Suspecting Blieden, the company questioned their chief accountant. In an internal memo obtained by the Daily Beast, Blieden told in-house investigators that he’d embezzled $15 million in 2017.

“It started small, in the thousands. It started out as monthly transactions and then sometimes became weekly,” reads the leaked memo.

Based on this report and its own evidence, the DOJ will now pursue the case in court. As well as facing time in a federal prison, the WPT winner is also being sued by his former employer.

Although StyleHaul went out of business in June 2019, executives are looking to recoup some losses through the Nevada state court.

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