DAILY BUZZ: BCPC Winner Arrested, Ky. UIGEA, Jail for APT Founder

Welcome to the BLUFF Daily Buzz, where we scour the entire internet for all the latest news in and around the world of poker. If it involves chips and cards, or people known to associate with chips and cards, we’re there.

BC Poker Championship winner arrested for manslaughter

Sophon Sek, who just this Sunday won the British Columbia Poker Championship in Canada for $364,364, was today arrested on charges of manslaughter and breaking and entering in the infamous 2007 “Surrey Six” murders, one of the biggest news stories in the Vancouver area over the last two years.

Sophon Sek won the BC Poker Championship on Sunday before being arrested in connection with six murders. (Photo: BCLocalNews.com)

Sophon Sek won the BC Poker Championship on Sunday before being arrested in connection with six murders. (Photo: BCLocalNews.com)

Sek appeared in Surrey Provincial Court today and was remanded to Nov. 30. He is the sixth person associated with the Red Scorpions gang to be arrested and charged in connection with the 2007 murders of six people in a Surrey, British Columbia, high-rise apartment building. Only one of the people killed that day, Corey Lal, was an actual target of the planned execution. The others – Lal’s brother Michael Lal, Edward Narong, Ryan Bartolomeo, Ed Schellenberg, and Christopher Mohan – were all in the wrong place at the wrong time. More background on the story can be found in this Vancouver Sun article from earlier in the year, when the other Red Scorpions were arrested.

Four of the other Red Scorpions – Jamie Bacon, Matt Johnston, Cody Haevischer, and Michael Le – are being held on charges with first-degree murder, while another associate is already serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. According to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team in Surrey, Sek could still face more charges in addition to manslaughter and break-and-enter.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police requested that the River Rock Casino hold Sek’s prize money from the BCPC, and the casino has complied with the request.

(Sixth gangster arrested for Surrey Six slaughter – Vancouver Sun)

Congressmen request delay in implementing UIGEA regulations

With a deadline of December 1st, time is growing short for Barney Frank, the Poker Players Alliance, and other opponents of the UIGEA to block implementation of the act’s regulations. But a late, unexpected source of support – letters from the Congressional delegation of the state of Kentucky – may help to nudge Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner toward blocking the UIGEA for another year.

Congressmen Geoff Davis (R), Harold Rogers (R), Ben Chandler (D), John Yarmuth (D), Edward Whitfield (R) and Brett Guthrie (R) wrote to Secretary Geithner requesting that the UIGEA be delayed because of the danger of financial institutions engaging in “overblocking,” or blocking transactions more transactions than required by the law, for fear of being prosecuted under vague federal anti-gambling laws. The letter specifically noted that popular credit card company MasterCard has begun overblocking transactions with a code used by the United States horse-racing industry, despite the fact that the UIGEA specifically gives bets on the ponies an exemption from the law.

Up to this point concerns about overblocking have mostly been academic, but UIGEA opponents are hopeful that a concrete example of the unintended consequences of the Act’s poor wording will convince the Treasury secretary to slam on the brakes. In order to stop the UIGEA regulations from going into full effect, Geithner would have to issue a ruling by next Monday; with Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the week, that leaves only a few business days for him to get things done.

(KY Congressional Delegation requests delaying enacting UIGEA – EOG.com)

Matt Sowash dodged death by rattlesnake but couldn't dodge the Colorado government. (Photo: The Denver News)

Matt Sowash dodged death by rattlesnake but couldn't dodge the Colorado government. (Photo: The Denver News)

Amateur Poker Tour head gets five years in jail for securities fraud

Matt Sowash, the former head of the Colorado-based Amateur Poker Tour, was convicted today of securities fraud and sentenced to five years in prison and five years of probation.

Sowash and business partner Andrew Hicks (who has yet to face trial) ran the APT, which offered free poker tournaments in bars, before selling the business in 2008. The two men then solicited investors for a new venture, Royal Flush Group Incorporated, which was also to run free poker tournaments in bars. The only problem? The Colorado Bureau of Investigation determined that Sowash and Hicks were offering securities and promising significant returns on investment to eight of their potential investors, despite not being licensed by the state to sell securities. The two men also hadn’t registered their company with the Colorado Division of Securities.

You might not know Sowash by name, but you might remember that he was the target of a bizarre 2007 murder plot, one in which APT investor Herb Beck planned to kill Sowash by placing his legs into a box full of rattlesnakes and then removing his body and dumping it on a hiking trail so his death would appear to be accidental. The Denver News published a sprawling feature about that case, Free Poker Tour is a Dead Man’s Hand, back in 2007.

(Amateur Poker Tour head Matt Sowash sentenced to five years – Westword)

Hands up, Grandma!

Police on the tiny Mediterranean island of Cyprus recently staged a raid on a reputed illegal gambling den after being tipped off to its existence by neighbors upset by the noise coming from the house. Once inside the house in the town of Limassol, police must have disappointed to only find 42 elderly women and less than 100 euros ($149) in cash. According to the Daily Mail, most of the women arrested in the raid for playing poker and gin rummy were between 75 and 85 years of age. The oldest was 95, while the youngest was just 50. In addition to paltry cash sum, police also confiscated 830 playing cards and 536 poker chips.

Gambling is illegal in almost all forms in Cyprus, even for the tiny sums at stake in the raided home game. The only exceptions to the gambling ban come in the form of the state lottery, horse racing, and betting on soccer at licensed shops, which the Mail describes as being “as common as pubs in England.” The 42 women will likely face nothing more than a small fine if convicted, given the small stakes of the game and the fact that the press and public opinion are both on their side.

(Forty-two elderly women arrested for gambling after police raid in Cyprus – Daily Mail)

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