Two Los Angeles locals have consented to plead guilty to charges of running an illegal gambling business and laundering money. Authorities linked this case to a recent indictment where poker professionals Gal Yifrach, Nick Shkolnik, and two others were charged with similar crimes by the court.
Yosef Yitzchak Beshari, 29, of North Hollywood, and Efraim Journo, 30, of Los Angeles, pled guilty to unlawful gambling and money-laundering conspiracy charges, according to U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Northern District of California.
The prosecutors’ comments and court records allege that the two men “conducted an illegal betting operation, including video slot machines and devices, and selling credits for internet gambling in Stanislaus County, San Joaquin County, Sacramento County, and other jurisdictions.”
Additionally, as per the USAO affidavit, Beshari conspired with Schneur Zalman Getzel Rosenfeld, 33, of Los Angeles, to launder the funds of the shady business.
Rosenfeld is among four defendants in the Los Angeles-based lawsuit, which also includes Yifrach and Shkolnik, as well as Shalom Ifrah. The Sacramento-area lawsuit involving Beshari and Journo indicated the duo laundered the profits of the illegal video-slots enterprise via numerous methods. These included “exchanging the cash proceeds for varied payments, including cheques, direct deposits of alleged earnings, and a wire transfer to an escrow corporation to purchase Beshari’s house.”
In late June, Judge William B. Shubb of the United States District Court will sentence Beshari and Journo. The two pleaded culpable to operating an unlawful gambling firm, which carries a maximum statutory punishment of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Furthermore, on the money laundering charge, Beshari faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or double the amount of the monetary instrument or cash involved, whichever is greater. Beshari also consented to forfeit $250,000 as terms of the plea agreement. Nevertheless, authorities will evaluate the pair’s background. The sentencing judge, United States District Judge William B. Shubb, will examine all mitigating considerations.
Beshari’s prospective penalties are comparable to those faced by Yifrach, the one-time WSOP bracelet winner authorities identified as among the two pioneers of the L.A.-based video-slots scam being charged in another case by the authorities.
Officials charged Yifrach and Shkolnik for incorporating multiple casino-based activities into their money-laundering ploys. Including exchanging illegitimate funds from video slots for checks, swapping the cash for casino chips, and performing cash transactions of no more than $10,000 at banks to avoid suspicion. As per the FDIC’s requirement, individuals must report significant cash transactions. The trial date for the parallel case involving Yifrach and Shkolnik has yet to be announced by the court.
Though some of these offenders face cumulative terms of up to 25 years, similar offenses involving unlawful slot-machine operations have persisted in the United States over several decades. Defendants in these cases are seldom sentenced to extended jail terms by authorities. The punishment has frequently been a short prison time (if any), often coupled with substantial penalties.
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