NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Illinois man pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges he helped three popular online poker websites trick banks into illegally processing payments from U.S. customers.
Bradley Franzen entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors had accused Franzen of operating an illegal gambling business and conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering.
Franzen, 41, was among 11 people charged on Friday, when U.S. authorities seized the Internet domain names for Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. These seizures effectively shut down their online gambling businesses, which are based outside the United States.
The case may test whether a 2006 U.S. federal law, which prohibits Internet gambling businesses from accepting payments from the United States, can be applied to entities based in other countries.
Prosecutors said Franzen was among four defendants who were highly-compensated “payment processors.” These defendants created fake companies that purported to sell such items as golf balls and jewelry to disguise payments and lied to banks about the transactions, prosecutors said.
Dressed in a blue plaid shirt and tan pants, Franzen said “not guilty, your honor” when asked on Monday for his plea.
Bail was set at $200,000, secured by equity on the home of Franzen’s parents. “That seems reasonable under the circumstances,” Maas said.
Sam Schmidt, a lawyer for Franzen, had no immediate comment after the hearing.
Another defendant, accused payment processor Chad Elie, was scheduled to appear in a Las Vegas federal court on Friday.
Co-defendant John Campos, a vice chairman and part owner of privately-held SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, was scheduled to appear later Monday in a federal court in St. George.
Eight other defendants are outside the United States, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Franzen, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-mj-00706.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel