Alleged Gambling Ring Busted In Manhattan; Athletes Possibly Involved

Something tells me we'll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming weeks. According to The New York Times, federal agents raided a swanky gallery inside the Carlyle Hotel (the late Bobby Short's joint) in Midtown Manhattan early this morning as part of an investigation into an international gambling and money laundering scheme. The gallery, known as the Helly Nahmad Gallery, is owned by art mogul Hillel Nahmad, who investigators believe helped fund a multi-million dollar gambling ring involving poker games with Wall Street big shots, celebrities, and professional athletes.

The other target of the investigation is Russian businessman Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom you may remember as the alleged mobster accused of fixing the pairs ice skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

In other words, this is kind of a big deal. These aren't small-time crooks. Nahmad's family fortune was recently valued at $3 billion by Forbes magazine, and the still-at-large Tokhtakhounov is believed to be a high-ranking member of the Russian mafia. According to investigators, Tokhtakhounov was tasked with operating the international arm of the gambling and money-laundering ring while Nahmad oversaw things in the States. Also:

According to the indictment, the organization would enforce payment of gambling debts through threat and force. For instance, the organization acquired a 50 percent interest in Titan P&H plumbing company in the Bronx as repayment for a $2 million gambling debt.

The indictment also mentions tens of millions of dollars flowing through shell companies in Cyprus, as well as "high-stakes illegal gambling business run out of New York City and Los Angeles that catered primarily to multimillionaire and billionaire clients," athletes apparently among them. Can't wait to see some names. Today's misallocation of law-enforcement resources is tomorrow's fun gossip.

[NYT]