Poker players accused of operating in sports gambling's shadow economy
A lawyer for a former Cantor Gaming executive charged with four felonies in connection with an illegal bookmaking ring said Thursday he will plead not guilty later this month at his initial court hearing in New York.
Michael Cristalli, a Las Vegas-based lawyer, declined to comment on the charges against his client, Mike Colbert. Colbert was arrested with seven other people in Southern Nevada on Oct. 24 on warrants stemming from an 18-month investigation into illegal bookmaking and money laundering.
He is scheduled to make a court appearance in New York on Nov. 29.
Colbert on Thursday did not speak during a procedural hearing in Las Vegas Justice Court. He is charged with enterprise corruption, conspiracy to operate an illegal gaming enterprise and three counts of money laundering.
Cristalli said Colbert’s next court appearance in Las Vegas is scheduled for Dec. 3. He remains free on $50,000 bail.
Colbert appeared at the hearing with Jerry Branca, Steven Diano [GPI Profile], Joseph Paulk, Paul Sexton and Ian Mandell. Brandt England and Kelly Barsel were in New York for their initial hearings and did not appear in court Thursday.
All the defendants and their attorneys declined to comment. The other five defendants were scheduled to appear in New York on Nov. 27 or Nov. 29.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 25 years in prison.
A 259-page indictment out of the Queens County, N.Y., district attorney’s office alleges Colbert, 32, arranged for the transfer of $100,000 in gambling proceeds between Las Vegas and New York in July 2011.
He spoke to co-defendant Gadoon Kyrollos using a telephone number with a 718 area code, a New York City area code, to arrange the transfer, authorities allege.
James Taylor, deputy chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said Thursday the criminal investigation continues, as does the probe into potential regulatory violations by Cantor Gaming.
Colbert, who worked for Cantor Gaming since 2008, is accused of being a “money collector/agent” who helped build a clientele of gamblers and collected or paid out money owed to them.
As the case winds its way through the courts, gaming industry executives and sports bettors are looking to know how Colbert and the seven other Southern Nevada residents became involved in the bookmaking ring.
Prosecutors say Sexton, 29, of Henderson, was one of the ring’s money collectors, while Diano, 48, Paulk, 35, Barsel, 42, Branca, 67, and England, 46, all of Las Vegas, were bookmakers.
England is a co-owner in Pinnacle Sports, an online sports gambling site. Mandell, 43, of Las Vegas is also accused of being a “money collector/agent.”
Prosecutors allege Pinnacle Sports served as a high-tech “wire-room” where bettors and their agents placed wagers and maintained accounts.
Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at email@example.com or 702-477-3893.
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