Seven-Day Sentence for Absolute Poker Founder Scott Tom Simply Not Enough

Updated: October 19th, 2017 by Dev Ops

Former Absolute Poker president and founder Scott Tom has returned to his party-boat business in Antigua after spending a paltry seven days behind bars after being sentenced in a New York federal court for his actions related to the US’s “Black Friday” crackdown against online poker.

For Scott Tom, the most prominent figure among several University of Montana frat brothers who founded Absolute Poker roughly 15 years ago, the sentence was nearly a “get out of jail free” card. Tom had already agreed to a plea deal with federal prosecutors that called for a fine of $300,000, and that had already been paid in advance back in June as bail posted by Tom’s father, Phil Tom.

Scott Tom’s plea deal called for the dismissal of most of the felony counts filed against him back in 2011, when he was named as one of 11 individual defendants in the Black Friday case. Instead, he was allowed to plead guilty to just a single misdemeanor charge of being an after-the-fact accessory to an illegal-gambling operation. That’s simply because Tom could not erase his prominent role as Absolute Poker’s boss, despite his (false) claims of having departed the AP operation back in 2007, after the US’s passage in late 2006 of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

Scott Tom remained in charge of Absolute Poker behind the scenes for years, even as he and several of his other U-of-Montana frat brothers and executive associates hid their control of AP behind intermediate shell entities. The claim of Tom having left Absolute Poker, as made by his defense counsel in court filings, is one of those “technical” truths that still defies all reality. This writer has received several statements from third parties who had vital business contacts with Scott Tom in the years following the UIGEA’s passage; to a tee, those parties all affirmed that though not officially at AP, Tom was still in charge of the company and the site.

Tom almost got away with never even having to spend a single night in jail. His prominent Las Vegas-based attorney, James Henderson, argued that “time served” was the appropriate custodial sentence. That would have amounted to the handful of hours Tom spent in custody after returning to the US as part of the pre-arranged plea deal and bail. Tom himself was so confident of being released that he bought a return-flight ticket to Antigua for that very same evening after his sentencing hearing.

Presiding US District Judge Barbara C. Moses termed that “a bold move,” instead departing from official sentencing guidelines by ordering Tom to spend half a fortnight in jail.

Tom’s attorney, Henderson, commented to that Judge Moses had gone “a bit rogue” in her sentencing, utterly ignoring Tom’s “rogue” behavior, which lasted well over a decade. Tom long ago dropped his own American citizenship in favor of the buy-a-passport program served up by the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis, and he may also have obtained dual Antiguan citizenship as well.

Rogue might also be an apt term for the way in which he let his stepbrother, Brent Beckley, take a larger legal fall. Beckley was assigned much of the responsibility for orchestrating with the third-party payment processors who more directly moved funds into and out of the banking system, servicing American players. Beckley ended up serving nearly a year in a federal prison in Colorado, though it was Scott Tom who brought Beckley onboard and who certainly called the corporate shots.

And of course, lest we forget, it was Scott Tom who was the primary inside cheat at Absolute Poker in that site’s own “God Mode” scandal. The “POTRIPPER” account that blatantly cheated in the “CrazyMarco” tourney was later directly traced to Scott Tom’s own laptop; and that laptop was also tracked moving around the Caribbean, island to island, matching Tom’s own vacation travels.

Scott Tom never served any time for that insider-cheating stuff. More’s the shame of it all.

So he’s back in Antigua now. He was official sentenced to non-custodial probation, though his own defense filings indicate that it was more or less a form of deportation. Scott Tom had long ago abandoned his US citizenship, so certain rights he might have wanted, he no longer has.

Still, it’s a shame Judge Moses didn’t keep him around a little longer before giving him the boot.

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