California Man Jailed for Laundering Illegal Slot Machine Cash

  • A California man was found guilty of laundering money from an illegal gambling operation
  • The courts found he had cleaned at least $640,000
  • Illegal slot machines were found all across Northern California
  • Atir Dadon now faces a 22-month prison sentence for the crime
Police are still investigating two as-yet uncharged men as it unravels a money laundering operation in the Bay Area
Police are still investigating two as-yet uncharged men as it unravels a money laundering operation in the Bay Area

A man has been jailed for 22 months after he was found guilty of laundering illegal slot machines money. A co-defendant pled guilty at the same time. A third man pleaded guilty in April.

Cosmetic operation

Atir Dadon, 34, of Sherman Oaks, Califormia was found to be conspiring to launder cash from an illegal gambling operation. Adam Atari, 35, also of Sherman Oaks, pled guilty to conspiracy to launder money.

According to the Department of Justice, 35-year-old Yaniv Gohar and 28-year-old Orel Gohar were operating an illegal business in the Bay Area. The pair were managing slot machines mainly in the Sacramento area, as well as other cities in Northern California.

Between October 2016 and November 2017, Dadon worked alongside 27-year-old Bar Shani in their cosmetics company, when they began using funds from the illegal gambling operation the Gohars were running to pay their employees. Oel Gohar, in turn, would then get checks from the cosmetics company. The checks stated these payments were for Gohar providing them with training and consultancy services.

In total, the money laundered amounted to over $150,000. Shani entered a guilty plea on April 26.

Other offenses

Atari was also found to be laundering money in a period between January 2015 and December 2017, again using funds from the illegal gambling business. This time the funds were used to pay the workers of Atari’s construction and home improvement business.

Electronic transfers and checks from these businesses were then sent to Yaniv Gohar in a similar fashion. The amount of laundered funds was $490,000. When speaking to the FBI about these transactions, Atari lied and asked his employees to do the same.

Orel and Yaniv Gohar fled the US after they got released during December 2017. They are said to be still at large.

Two further men – Raz Razla, 48, of Sherman Oaks, and Eran Buhbut, 33, of Oakland – were also allegedly part of the money laundering scheme. Charges are still pending agasinst them.

The investigation was a joint operation of the Bureau of Gambling Control, the Department of Justice in California and the FBI.

Gambling and money laundering

Gambling operations have long been associated with money laundering. Many criminal enterprises have used casinos and bookmaker shops in order to clean the money they earn through illegal operations.

There has been a crackdown in recent years, with new measures constantly being introduced to help with anti-money laundering protections. Some casinos have been hit hard since these stricter rules came into effect.

One such casino is the Parq Vancouver Casino. It is the biggest casino in British Columbia, Canada and opened its doors mere months before strict anti-money laundering rules came into effect. The casino saw decent profits in the first three months of operation before the new rules came in. Since then, it has been struggling.

A new law means that anyone trying to gamble with sums of cash of at least CAD$10,000 (US$7,400) in a British Columbia casino will have to verify its source. While this has helped to reduce the number of suspicious transactions, the casino’s revenues have taken a big hit.

Reason for stricter rules

The stricter rules were brought in following publication of a report titled Dirty Money in October 2017. This report exposed many of the dirty practices involving money laundering and casinos. It alleged that the provincial government of British Columbia was ignoring these illegal practices because of the tax revenue they were bringing in. Criminal enterprises were using the casinos to launder their money.

In 2018, the Parq Vancouver Casino made a loss of nearly $114m, and the S&P rating agency has brought down its rating to the selective default level.

The Parq Vancouver was also embroiled in a controversy after staff there refused to let world-famous rapper Drake play at the tables. The rapper said he successfully met their verification checks, but the casino said otherwise.