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2 NYC men who ran illegal poker games plead guilty

August 17, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Two men have pleaded guilty to operating high-stakes illegal New York City poker games with pots regularly reaching tens of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors say Kirill Rapoport pleaded guilty Friday to conducting an illegal poker game. They say William Barbalat pleaded guilty Wednesday to traveling in interstate commerce in aid of operating an illegal poker game.

A defense attorney says Barbalat accepts responsibility but has no ties to organized crime. Rapoport’s attorney hasn’t responded to a message seeking comment.

The men were among 34 people accused in April of being part of a scheme by two Russian-American organized-crime enterprises. Prosecutors say the enterprises laundered $100 million from illegal gambling including poker games attended by celebrities and pro athletes.

Barbalat and Rapoport face up to five years in prison when sentenced in December.

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