Poker player Dennis Blieden has pleaded guilty to 14 charges and is now facing from 22 to 200 years in a federal prison.
Blieden Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft, Wire Fraud
Dennis Blieden pleaded guilty for embezzling over $22 million from a former employee to maintain an extravagant lifestyle. The money was stolen from a digital marketing firm, StyleHaul Inc. where Mr. Blieden used to work, and the funds were used on various casino visits, to purchase cryptocurrency as well as cover existent debts, and fund poker games.
US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California confirmed Mr. Blieden’s admission of guilt on Friday, November 22. Mr. Blieden has been found guilty of wire fraud as well as aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty to all 11 wire fraud charges along with two counts of forfeiture and one count on identity theft.
He used his access to the company’s account to syphon off funds over time with the agency unwitting. It took him four years to amass the $22 million in stolen funds between October 2015 and March 2019.
Mr. Blieden was as cunning as he was generous, writing off $1,204,000 in checks to fellow poker players as well as paying off debt on his credit cards. Not least of all, he salted away $8,473,734 in various cryptocurrency accounts.
Even more daringly, he leased a property in his company’s name so that clients and employees could use the facilities in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.
A Year for Each Million
Profligacy is the least of Mr. Blieden’s problems right now. Having pleaded guilty, he’s not off the hot plate, as he might be facing up to 22 years in prison. As irony would have it, this is one year for every million he stole from his employer. However, this is his best option so far.
A hearing has been scheduled for March 20, 2020. If a judge takes a less favorable stance, he could end up sentenced to 200 years behind bars. An adept card player, Mr. Blieden is probably now probably having serious second thoughts about the biggest bluff of his life.
He became popular with his WPT LA Poker Classic Championship when he topped a field of 493 contestants and soared to first place, bagging $1 million in the process. Prior to that event, he had moderate poker earnings amounting to just $25,000 from live tournament action.
Until the day he was arrested, Mr. Blieden continued to fuel his poker hobby, exiting the WSOP Main Event in July and immediately hoping into Partypoker MILLIONS. He was arrested in Las Vegas to what must have been a personal revelation.