Bryan Zuriff, the executive producer of the Showtime drama Ray Donovan, pleaded guilty in a federal court to his role in gambling operations with suspected ties to the Russian Mafia which took sports bets and ran poker tables for the fabulous people in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY as reported by the Daily News.
Earlier this year the feds indicted 34 defendants for their alleged roles in the gambling schemes, and Zuriff is the first to plead guilty. The 44-year-old degenerate gambler agreed to forfeit $500,000, and faces up to five years in prison when sentenced on November 25.
Other defendants include art dealer and spoiled playboy Hillel "Helly" Nahmad whom Zuriff allegedly assisted. Nahmad is represented by criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman who insists on his client's innocence as reported by Vivian Yee for The New York Times:
Mr. Brafman, who is representing Mr. Nahmad with another lawyer, Paul Shechtman, said in a statement after the hearing, "We do not believe that Mr. Nahmad has knowingly violated the law." He also said, "We anticipate that he will be fully exonerated."
Brafman previously represented class action king Mel Weiss, and at the time of Weiss's federal indictment in September 2007 said in remarkably similar language "we are confident that when the evidence is carefully reviewed at a trial of these charges, Mr. Weiss will be fully exonerated" as then reported by Barry Meier for The New York Times. Of course, several months later Weiss pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy for his role in a decades-long scheme pursuant to which serial plaintiffs were paid illegal kickbacks from attorneys' fees in order to file securities fraud lawsuits against publicly-traded companies, and was sentenced to thirty months in prison as then reported by Jonathan D. Glater for The New York Times.
In a press release federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said Zuriff "becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct."