A Montecito man arrested in October 2012 on charges of corruption and money laundering for his alleged involvement in an illegal sports betting ring has avoided jail time by entering into a plea deal with New York prosecutors and agreeing to forfeit $1.7 million. Authorities had seized $2.01 million of Stanley Tomchin’s money during their investigation, including more than $400,000 in cash found in his Lilac Drive home.
Tomchin, 67 at the time of his arrest, was originally charged with 56 felony counts by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and faced up to 25 years in prison, but the plea deal announced late last month saw him plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy. “In our view, the District Attorney badly overcharged this case — both in terms of the number of charges and the seriousness of the charges,” said Tomchin’s attorney, David Deitch. “The only explanation for why they do so is to put pressure on defendants to forfeit money as a price for escaping more serious criminal liability.” Deitch noted that Tomchin didn’t agree to cooperate with law enforcement during his prosecution.
Tomchin, an alleged owner of a sports betting website called pinnaclesports.com, was indicted with 24 other defendants who prosecutors said were part of an East Coast gambling syndicate — called the Jersey Boys — that netted over $50 million by taking wagers on horse racing, professional and college football, basketball, and hockey. Implicated were Jerald “Rocket” Branca, Steven “Fats” Diano, John “Tugs” Tognino, Michael “Chinese Mike” Duong, and others spread throughout California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Over $7.6 million in property and cash were seized by the end of the 18-month investigation.
The indictment unfairly labeled Tomchin as a top “bookmaker” responsible for directing “agents” who assisted gamblers in placing illegal wagers over the Internet, Deitch’s firm, Ifrah Law, explained in a prepared statement. “Several other defendants have entered pleas in the case,” it reads. “Nearly all have pleaded guilty to felonies.” Representatives of pinnaclesports.com, who denied any connection to Tomchin after his arrest, did not return requests for comment. The website appears to remain operational.
Tomchin — who describes himself as “possibly the world’s best backgammon player” on his website, which is populated by self-written press releases about chess, bridge, tennis, and charity events — wants to put the whole experience behind him, his attorneys said. “Mr. Tomchin is also hopeful that the resolution of the case will permit him to resume his philanthropic work, much of which has been impeded by the pendency of the Queens indictment,” they said.