Attorneys for Bryan Zuriff, the former executive producer of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” are asking a New York federal judge to give him a probationary sentence for his involvement in an online gambling ring that ended in dozens of arrests in April.
Authorities said that the online gambling was linked to a money laundering operation by Russian-American organized crime, but attorneys for Zuriff said that he had “no knowledge” of the connection to such activity. Zuriff pled guilty in July to one count of violating a federal anti-Internet gambling law. Zuriff stepped down from “Ray Donovan” after the plea, but according to a letter that his attorneys sent to U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, he has been asked to return to the show as a consultant “and remains deeply involved in the production of its second season. He is an integral part of the formula of success for this show.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 25, and although his plea agreement has a sentencing guideline range of six to 12 months, as well as the payment of a $500,000 fine, he can still seek a punishment outside the guidelines. His attorneys, Isabelle Kirshner and Charles Clayman, said he has already paid the fine but that the “interests of justice” do not require that he be sentenced within the range.
In the attorneys’ letter, they describe how he has been a respected figure in entertainment and devoted father of four who “has had a gambling problem since he was a child.” His sports gambling accelerated, they write, after his grandfather sold his business and he received about $9 million in proceeds from the sale.
“Mr. Zuriff will have to face the rest of his life with the stigma of a felony conviction,” they write. “He has already suffered the humiliation of extensive press converage surrounding his arrest and plea. His reputation has been ruined. He has a lot of work to do to restore his good name and he is intent on doing so.” But they said that even though he has “a problem,” “prison is not the solution to that problem.”
Among those who wrote letters vouching for Zuriff are writer-director Peter Berg, “Ray Donovan” creator Ann Biderman, producer Mark Gordon, producer Scott Budnick and actor Jon Voight.
“There isn’t one of us who has worked with Bryan that doesn’t feel; he is a fine man deserving of our loyalty,” Voight wrote. “Whatever mistakes he has made I’m sure he has learned his lesson quite well, and I hope you will consider this plea for leniency from someone who knows and loves him.”