Art law News USA

Two more guilty pleas in case involving Helly Nahmad

US Attorney charges 34 defendants with participating in a Russian-American gambling ring

Two more men have pled guilty yesterday, Wednesday 4 September, to participating in Russian-American gambling rings connected to organised crime in a case that involves the New York gallery owner and mega-collector Helly Nahmad. Nahmad has denied the charges.

Justin Smith and Edwin Ting are the fourth and fifth to plead guilty in the 34-defendant case being heard in the Federal District Court in New York.

The indictment charges that Nahmad and other alleged members and associates of the gambling rings committed a range of offenses including racketeering, international money laundering, and extortion.

In announcing the latest guilty pleas, Manhattan’s US Attorney Preet Bharara stated that Smith and Ting ran illegal sports and poker gambling operations “that handled many millions of dollars… They were part of an underground enterprise trying to be invisible to law enforcement.”

Smith is alleged to have assisted Nahmad and others in placing tens of millions of dollars of online bets through gambling websites. He pled guilty to “accepting a financial instrument in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, an illegal sportsbook.”

Ting pled guilty to running an illegal gambling business.

In describing the guilty pleas, the US Attorney’s Office cited not just the indictment and other documents but also “statements made at various conferences in this case.” Whether Smith is cooperating in the case against Nahmad is at this point unclear.

The indictment refers to one of the two alleged illegal gambling rings as “the Nahmad-Trincher Organisation” and charges that it was financed in part by the gallery that Nahmad operates in Manhattan. Nahmad is also alleged to have conspired to commit wire fraud related to the sale of a painting.

Nahmad has entered a not guilty plea, and the charges against him, which were unsealed in April, are unproven allegations only. If convicted, he would face a maximum sentence of 92 years. Nahmad’s laywer was not available for comment at press time but has previously denied the charges, saying in a statement that he did not believe the dealer knowingly violated the law and expected him to be fully exonerated.

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