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Producer Named in FBI Gambling Ring Indictment Denies Wrongdoing

'Ray Donovan' exec producer Bryan Zuriff part of federal indictment tied to alleged money laundering operation

An executive producer of Showtime’s upcoming drama “Ray Donovan” is denying wrongdoing after he was named by the FBI among the dozens of individuals allegedly involved in illegal gambling that resulted in dozens of arrests on Tuesday, in what federal authorities say is linked to an extensive money laundering operation run by two Russian-American organized crime organizations.

Bryan Zuriff, 43, was among those named in a federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday. He faces charges of operating an illegal gambling business and unlawful Internet gambling, according to the FBI. Zuriff is exec producer on the Showtime series, set to debut in June, but is not active in day-to-day production of the series. A former executive with Mark Gordon Co., home of “Ray Donovan,” Zuriff has served as an exec producer on pilot scripts for NBC and Starz, and his credits also include features  “The Details” and “The Messenger.”

His attorney, Matthew Sloan, said in a statement that “the charges against Bryan Zuriff that were made yesterday came as a complete surprise to him. He denies any wrongdoing and looks forward to his day in court to confront the government’s allegati0ns.” In a press release issued by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, he was a listed as a “fugitive,” but in a brief conversation with Variety, Zuriff said that was “absolutely not true.” He referred other questions to his attorney. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office could not immediately say why he was among those listed or what his current status is in the case.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney announced the charges against 34 people they say were involved in the organized crime enterprises, which included the operation of two international sportsbooks that catered to rich individuals in the U.S., Russia and the Ukraine. Federal authorities say that the operations laundered more than $100 million. One operation, the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, laundered money from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus into the U.S., authorities said, while the other, the Nahmad-Trincher Organization, was financed by the Helly Nahmad Gallery, a New York art gallery run by Hillel Nahmad. Nahmad’s charges include conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the sale of a painting worth about $250,000, the FBI said.

Also named in the indictment were three people charged with running high-stakes illegal poker rooms in New York. Among them is Molly Bloom, who drew media attention in 2011 over reports that she arranged high-stakes games for celebrities like Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The charges against Zuriff carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and six years of supervised release; a $500,000 fine or twice the amount gained from the crimes or twice the amount lost by victims and a $200 special assessment.

Update: An arraignment for all the defendants is scheduled before U.S. District Court in New York on Friday before Judge Jesse M. Furman. According to the indictment, the accusations of operating an illegal sports gambling business are against Zuriff and 11 others. The indictment alleges that they “knowingly and willfully did conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct and own all and part of an illegal gambling business.” It also cites an alleged violation of a New York bookmaking law. The indictment is much wider in scope in alleging others, not Zuriff, with racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy, as well as extortion and threats of violence for those who had unpaid gambling debts.

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