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Posted on: June 10, 2021, 05:04h.
Final up to date on: June 10, 2021, 05:40h.
Philip Conneller Learn Extra
Poker participant Dennis Blieden, 31, was sentenced to 79 months in jail on Wednesday for embezzling $22 million from a digital advertising and marketing and expertise company that sorted social media influencers.
Dennis Blieden craved validation from the poker gamers he had idolized on TV. He blamed his crimes on his playing and amphetamine dependancy. (Picture: NYC Poker Tour)
In February 2018, the Cincinnati native gained the World Poker Tour’s LA Poker Traditional for $1 million. However these winnings have been only a drop within the ocean in contrast with the cash he had already stolen from his employer, Hollywood-based StyleHaul Inc.
Blieden was the VP of accounting and finance for StyleHaul from October 2019 and had management of its financial institution accounts. In keeping with an inside SyleHaul memo filed by prosecutors, in 2017 alone he embezzled $15 million.
He did this by wiring money to his private account, whereas creating pretend accounting information and bogus Western Union letters so it will seem cash was going to shoppers.
Faux Way of life
Prosecutors mentioned this allowed him to stay out a fantasy elite-poker life-style, coming into the largest tournaments, enjoying within the greatest money video games, and rubbing shoulders with gamers he’d beforehand solely idolized on TV.
And he curried favor along with his new buddies by backing them in tournaments. He issued greater than $1 million in checks to different gamers, in keeping with court docket filings.
Blieden additionally invested a number of the stolen cash in cryptocurrency, which accrued worth. However this was not sufficient to offset the cash he misplaced playing on on-line poker and slots, as nicely on the stay poker circuit.
An inside StyleHaul investigation in 2019 uncovered Blieden’s transgressions. In an interview in March that 12 months with fellow firm executives, he lied when requested how a lot was left of the sum he had stolen.
He mentioned he had round $50,000 in his private accounts and a few cryptocurrency in varied e-wallets.
However in keeping with the feds, he subsequently dropped $3 million into slot machines in Las Vegas after he broke up along with his longtime girlfriend.
StyleHaul couldn’t survive Blieden’s monetary abuse. The agency as soon as had 5,000 digital influencers on its books, together with YouTube and Instgram stars Zoella, Joey Graceffa, and Dulce Sweet, and claimed to generate 2.5 billion views per thirty days.
It initially deliberate to shut its US operations and relocate to London, nevertheless it folded for good in Could 2019.
In a pre-sentencing letter to California Central District Choose André Birotte Jr., Blieden blamed his conduct on his dependancy to playing and amphetamines.
Following his WPT win, he mentioned he was “outwardly validated throughout the poker neighborhood and from my friends as being an expert gambler, so I did the whole lot I might to maintain that fame alive.
“I used to be chasing my debt, but in addition trying to maintain up with a way of life that was a lie,” he confessed.
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