Former federal agent who aided organized-crime figure is sentenced to 10 years in prison
A former federal agent, convicted of running an illegal gambling operation, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his part in arranging a $100 million poker game that was played at the high-end Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
Richard M. Roberts was found guilty Monday of running the operation, which prosecutors said was intended to be a massive money-laundering scheme. He was also convicted of failing to file a report of suspicious activity for six years after the deal ended and of using illegal means to coerce a witness into buying his silence.
He was indicted in March 2009 and was arrested by federal agents from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in July 2009.
He was sentenced by United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan in Newark, which noted that Roberts made a “frivolous” argument that his federal rights should be protected by the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against self-incrimination.
“The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that federal and state courts will not countenance any speech or conduct that violates the rights of free speech and free association guaranteed by the First Amendment,” wrote Judge Cogan. “In the case at bar, the defendant chose to employ the First Amendment as a shield from criminal liability for allegedly criminal conduct.”
The sentence imposed on Roberts was a combination of the maximum possible sentence for the crimes and the statutory minimum. The judge ruled that Roberts would not be required to serve any of his time in prison before he could appeal his conviction.
Roberts was accused of orchestrating a scheme by which he paid off multiple players at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, used his power as a federal agent to coerce a witness who was a co-defendant into buying his silence, and used his position with the FBI to gather evidence of other illegal gambling operations.
Prosecutors also alleged that Roberts and a co-defendant, Michael D. “Chip” Smith, used a confidential informant to obtain evidence that they needed in order to make a large “winnings” payoff to a second co-defendant and to provide information in exchange for favorable treatment.
The informant turned over some of the evidence he gathered and allowed others to be arrested.