Facing charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, World Series of Poker Circuit champion Travell Thomas decided to take a plea deal to avoid more jail time. The poker pro was set to spend as much as 20 years in prison for his crimes, and decided to lessen this sentence by copping a plea deal.
Standing in front of United States District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla late last week, Thomas pled guilty to the charges that were put in place November of last year. Thomas was upset and stated that his gambling was out of control as he continued to operate a debt scam which racked up $31 million.
When speaking to the court, Thomas said that he would spend his days at the casino and wouldn’t even worry about changing his clothes. He feels that the authorities saved his life by arresting him as he is unable to gamble any more.
The judge felt that while his story was compelling, he did prey on people who were financially distressed and a lot of money was taken for his enjoyment. She felt that she could not go easy on sentencing and had to send a message to others that this type of behavior is not acceptable.
Thomas and his company would use untoward methods to get people to pay their debts. Employees were taught to threaten those who owed money with lawsuits or lie to the customer and say they would face federal prosecution if they did not make a payment.
Thomas actually had a pretty successful career as a poker player and seemingly got caught up in the bad side of casino gaming. A regular on the WSOPC, Thomas cashed out in 2009 and won his first ring two years later. He will now head to jail in the fall and spend eight years behind bars for taking advantage of other gamblers.