Two Los Angeles residents have agreed to plead guilty in an illegal-gambling business and money-laundering case that prosecutors state was a parallel and connected case to another recent indictment in which poker pros Gal Yifrach, Nick Shkolnik, and two others on roughly similar charges.
U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Northern District of California announced that Yosef Yitzchak Beshari, 29, of North Hollywood, and Efraim Journo, 30, of Los Angeles pleaded guilty to the illegal-gambling business and money-laundering conspiracy charges.
According to prosecutors’ statements and court documents, Beshari and Journo “conducted an illegal gambling business involving video slot machines and devices and the sale of credits for online gambling, in Stanislaus County, San Joaquin County, Sacramento County and elsewhere. The USAO statement also declares that Beshari conspired with Schneur Zalman Getzel Rosenfeld, 33, of Los Angeles to launder proceeds of the scheme.
Rosenfeld is one of the four defendants in the L.A.-based case including Yifrach and Shkolnik, along with Shalom Ifrah. In the Sacramento-area case involving Beshari and Journo, investigators determined that proceeds of the illicit video-slots enterprise were laundered through several means, including “exchanging the cash proceeds for various payments, including checks, direct deposits of purported salary, and a wire transfer to an escrow company for the purchase of Beshari’s house.”
June sentencing awaits
Beshari and Journo are scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb in late June. The illegal-gambling business charge the pair pled guilty to can carry a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Beshari also faces a possible harsher sentence on the money-laundering count, including up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved, whichever is greater, As part of the plea deal, Beshari also agreed to forfeit $250,000, though the actual sentences won’t be handed down until after the pair’s background is assessed and the sentencing judge, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb, considers all extenuating factors.
The possible sentences facing Beshari are similar to those facing Yifrach, the one-time WSOP bracelet winner who prosecutors described as being one of the two leaders of the L.A.-based video-slots scheme being prosecuted in the other case. Yifrach and Shkolnik are accused of including more casino-based for their own money-laundering schemes, including exchanging illicit cash from the video slots for checks, exchanging the cash for casino chips, and conducting cash exchanges of no more than $10,000 at banks to avoid those banks’ FDIC-required requirements for reporting larger cash transaction. No trial date has been set as yet for the parallel case involving Yifrach and Shkolnik.
Though some of these defendants do face combined sentences ranging up to 25 years in total, such crimes involving illegal slot-machine enterprises have been somewhat commonplace across the United States for several decades. Rarely do the defendants in these cases receive longer prison terms. Far more frequently, the sentence has been a brief jail term (if any at all), in conjunction with healthy fines.