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Feds in NY: Russian mob ran celebrity poker games

The Associated Press, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 11:23am (PDT)

NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of people were charged on Tuesday in what investigators said was a Russian organized crime scheme that included illegal, high-stakes poker games for the rich and famous.

Federal authorities in New York City weren't naming names, but they said the poker players included pro athletes, Hollywood celebrities and Wall Street executives. None of them were facing charges.

The money-laundering investigation led to arrests Tuesday in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and elsewhere around the country. There also were FBI raids at an apartment in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and a Madison Avenue art gallery owned by two of the defendants.

Among those named in an indictment filed in federal court was a wealthy Russian fugitive, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. He was already under indictment in a separate U.S. case accusing him of bribing Olympic figure skating judges at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

In a two-month period beginning in late 2011, the money-laundering ring paid Tokhtakhounov $20 million in illegal proceeds, the indictment says.

Along with the illegal poker games, the ring operated "an international gambling business that catered to oligarchs residing in the former Soviet Union and throughout the world," the indictment says.

Prosecutors allege proceeds were laundered through shell companies in Cyprus and in the United States.

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