WPT champion faces lifetime jail sentence for embezzlement
A former Hollywood executive, a pro poker player and the champion of the 2018 WPT LA Poker Classic Main Event, Dennis Blieden has pled guilty to defalcating more than $22 million from the LA-based social media company, StyleHaul where he used to work as the controller and vice president of accounting and finance.
The 30-year old admitted his guilt on one count of 11 wire frauds and another of identity theft. Blieden wrote $1.2 million in personal checks to other poker players, he wrote $1.1 million to pay off credit cards and a staggering $8.4 million was used from the reserves of the StyleHaul to buy his cryptocurrency along with some personal expenses to live a lavish lifestyle, one of them being playing high-stakes gambling tournaments.
A resident of Cincinnati, he won the last live cash in the partypoker MILLIONS Vegas Main Event where he finished a respectable 17th place. With the initial charges based on the money involved, Blieden was looking at up to 200 years in prison if convicted of all charges. Now, if the player is jailed for a lifetime then cases like Full Tilt Poker Scandal and Black Friday and others might also follow where transparency was compromised.
However, the case got aggressive after he covered up everything, falsifying bank records, framing the transfer to his personal account as the 'equity' draws that the company owed him. Further forging letters from the Western Union and mispresenting payments to make it look like the money was used to pay clients rather than himself. This isn’t the end of the story, Blieden was charged with aggravated identity for renting property on Rosarito Beach, Mexico and forging the signature of a StyleHaul executive.
The court records also show that Blieden entered poker tournaments for a buy-in of massive $52,000 and $103,000 shortly before he was released from StyleHaul. He also paid the $300,000 buy-in for last year’s Super High Roller Bowl at the Aria.
The entire matter is of intense seriousness that will cause reverberations around the poker industry. According to a statement from the Central District of California US Attorney’s Office, Blieden will be sentenced on March 20, 2020, and will face up to a statutory maximum of 22 years in federal prison. For the latest updates in the poker industry and tournaments taking place around the world, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com and stay tuned!
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