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The co-founder of an Internet poker company pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges, admitting that he knew he was breaking the law when he arranged for U.S. banks to process gambling proceeds.
Brent Buckley, 31, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, saying he knew it was illegal to accept credit cards so that customers could gamble on the Internet.
A plea deal calls for him to receive a sentence of a year to a year and a half in prison. Sentencing was set for April 19.
The charges stem from a prosecution that shut down U.S. operations of the three largest Internet companies last spring.
Buckley was a cofounder of Absolute Poker. Prosecutors said Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars tricked U.S. banks into processing billions of dollars of gambling transactions by disguising the money as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls.
John Campos, the then-vice president of the board of SunFirst Bank in St. George, was charged in the case for his alleged role in processing payments through the Utah bank for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending.
Buckley, who stood Tuesday with his hands clasped behind his back, was described in testimony as the director of payments for Absolute Poker.
The United States in October 2006 enacted the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which makes it a crime for gambling businesses to knowingly accept most forms of payment in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling.
Buckley said his crime began in the fall of 2006 and continued until last spring. In May, prosecutors announced that a deal had been reached with Absolute Poker to enable players in the United States to recover their money after the games were interrupted by the criminal prosecution.
Tribune reporter Tom Harvey contributed to this story.