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Australian man avoids prison in online poker sentencing in U.S

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Australian man avoided prison when he was sentenced on Wednesday in New York for illegally processing gambling proceeds through U.S. banks for several major Internet betting sites.

Daniel Tzvetkoff, 31, pleaded guilty to one conspiracy count and one count of operating an illegal gambling business in August 2010.

He was arrested in April 2010 in a Las Vegas casino.

Since then, he has cooperated with a broader investigation into online poker sites that led to criminal charges against the owners of Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and PokerStars.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan imposed a sentence of time served and a $13 million forfeiture on Wednesday.

Tzvetkoff, whom Kaplan previously allowed to relocate to Australia, is now working as the chief technical officer for a “respectable organization,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed by his attorney, Robert Goldstein.

“Daniel is a capable, highly skilled and intelligent young man, and he looks forward to a productive, happy and quiet life with his family,” Goldstein said in a phone interview.

Prosecutors had accused Tzvetkoff of processing approximately $500 million in transactions between American gamblers and Internet sites through his company, Intabill, and disguising the transactions from U.S. banks to make them appear unrelated to gambling.

Thus far, eight defendants have pleaded guilty in the probe, including Raymond Bitar, the former chief executive of Full Tilt Poker, and Brent Beckley, an owner of Absolute Poker. Charges remain pending against three others, including the Isai Scheinberg, the Israeli-Canadian founder of PokerStars.

PokerStars agreed to forfeit $731 million and take control of Full Tilt in a 2012 civil settlement with U.S. authorities. Absolute Poker has also settled U.S. civil charges.

(Editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis)