Online poker executive Bradley Franzen pleads not guilty
Bradley Franzen, one of 11 executives charged in a crackdown against the three largest poker websites open to U.S. players, pleaded not guilty to related charges.
Franzen, 41, of Illinois, was released on $200,000 bail after turning himself in to the FBI in New York on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
The 11 people -- three of whom were the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker -- were charged Friday with bank fraud, money laundering and violating gambling laws. The government also is seeking to recover $3 billion from the companies.
Franzen has been pegged as one in a group of highly paid "payment processors" who lied to banks about the nature of the financial transactions, the AP said, noting that the charges he faces could carry a sentence of 85 years in prison if he's convicted.
Federal prosecutors charged Franzen with nine counts, according to a Bloomberg report, alleging that he created fake companies and websites to disguise payments to the three poker companies and conspired to violate the Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. They also allege money laundering and conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud.
Franzen isn't the only one to deny taking part in illegal activities related to online poker.
On Friday, Full Tilt Poker defended itself and its chief executive, Raymond Bitar, saying online poker was "a game of skill enjoyed by millions of people" and despite the FBI's actions, it remained committed to preserving the rights of poker fans "to play the game they love online."
Full Tilt said it believes online poker is legal, saying its view was "a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Aaron Kanter plays multiple Web poker games simultaneously in a 2005 photo. After qualifying online, he won $2 million at a Las Vegas event. Credit: Steve Yeater / Associated Press