Congressman’s Wife Charged, Convicted for Role in Online Gambling Crimes

by , Oct 7, 2010 | 7:18 am

Drawing: Jane Flavell Collins
Patrice Tierney entered into a plea deal with the US Attorney’s Office in Boston wherein she admits to being “willfully blind” to the nature of her brother’s online gambling operations.

Oh boy … the election-driven hedlines in the mainstream press will likely be about tax fraud, but we’ll know it means something more to people involved with online gambling fights beyond Massachusetts’ 6th district …

The DOJ unsealed a 4-count indictment of Patrice Tierney yesterday, wife of US Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) — for aiding and abetting an allegedly illegal online gambling operation. Specifically, the Feds tagged her for tax fraud while managing a bank account for her brother Robert Eremian. Apparently she miscoded some bank transactions that help them avoid detection as online gambling funds from a business based in Antigua.

Tierney pled guilty yesterday and was released on her own recognizance. She faces up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine, though her attorney, a former US Attorney, says she will likely receive probation with some home incarceration.

Tierney says she believed her brother’s business was selling and licensing software to legal online gambling businesses. Eremian and his brother Daniel Eremian were indicted in August by the DOJ in Massachusetts for a laundry list of crimes that included UIGEA violations.

There’s a good story about the case here, in Salon. Also good continuing coverage from the Newburyport News, where they’ve found that Tierney’s brother already faced illegal online gambling charges in the late ’90s (and struck a probated plea deal with the Feds).

John Tierney’s opponent in the November election, birther Bill Hudak, has now called into question the Congressman’s vote in July 2006, where he was one of eight Massachusetts reps to vote against the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, a bill that would pass the House, 317-93, and would eventually evolve into the UIGEA.

In fact, yep, that’s the story that seems to be trending right now — with undertones that supporting online gambling is at a minimum a red flag.

Without having seen any of the legal docs yet, it’s not clear what, if any, connection to poker this case has. But the operation here — Sports Offshore — is the same alleged racket that led to indictments (in May, I think) for Todd Lyons, whom you may recall was the second person arrested in America charged with UIGEA violations … and the first American, as opposed to a foreign national. Apparently the Eremians were added to the indictments in that case, and they too were charged with UIGEA violations and numerous other gambling- and finance-related offenses.

With the arrest of Lyons’, who faces dozens of charges, the prosecutor highlighted the key point in this case: that just because your business is based offshore, it didn’t mean you could run it from the United States and live in a big fancy house here while doing so. More in the DOJ press release … much of it to suggest this case is about more than just one Congressman’s willfully ignorant wife committing tax crimes in 2003-2009.

A few highlights from the DOJ that jumped out:

Eremian allegedly employed dozens of “agents” in the United States who recruited customers and collected gambling debts, forwarding the proceeds to Eremian in Antigua.

Yikes, “recruited customers”?

The Indictment further alleges that Eremian funneled millions of dollars that constituted illegal gambling proceeds to family members in the United States.

Yikes, “illegal gambling proceeds to family members”?

The Information unsealed yesterday alleges that Tierney managed Robert Eremian’s U.S. based finances through a Bank of America bank account in the District of Massachusetts that was funded by Robert Eremian with the proceeds of illegal gambling activities. […] Tierney provided information […] that mischaracterized Eremian’s income as commissions and Eremian’s employment as a computer consultant. The Information states, “The defendant Patrice Tierney engaged in a conscious course of deliberate ignorance regarding the true nature of Eremian’s income and Eremian’s ownership of Sports Offshore.”

Though just about everything here is still “alleged” … (except for the part where Tierney admits guilt, lol, for her involvement with all variety of illegal online gambling crimes) … any who might have reason to fear the DOJ can now see an even longer list of potential charges they might wanna hope to dodge, including but not limited to:

– money laundering
– operating an illegal gambling business
– use of wire communication facilities to transmit wagering information
– interstate travel in aid of racketeering
– false tax returns
– witness tampering
– acceptance of financial instruments for unlawful Internet gambling

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