Poker pro Dennis Blieden who shipped the 2018 WPT LA Poker Classic Main Event for $1,000,00 could face up to 22 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing over $22 million from his former employer and then using the money to fund his poker obsession. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Blieden’s crime warrants the statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison. The 30-year old pro has been detained until his sentencing hearing set on March 20, 2020.
A Cincinnati resident, Blieden was employed as the vice president of accounting and finance as well as the controller of StyleHaul, a marketing and talent agency formerly based in Hollywood but that relocated to London earlier this year. It was established in court that Blieden had full control of the company’s various bank accounts and he misused his position to transfer company funds to his personal accounts.
Blieden is alleged to have transferred the company funds from October 2015 to March 2019. He transferred over $8.5 million to fund his cryptocurrency accounts. Additionally, he stole $1.2 million for his personal checks written to some poker players, and $1.1million to settle his credit card bills.
Blieden created false entries into the StyleHaul books, replicating the appearance of credible company expenses and authorised payments to the company’s clients, and disguising transfers of the company funds to Blieden’s personal accounts as legitimate equity draws, which the company owed him. He also generated fraudulent transfer receipts from Western Union to supposed StyleHaul clients, and forged a StyleHaul executive’s signature that eventually landed him with an acute identity theft charge.
Blieden has been playing poker for more than three years and has already amassed $1,060,394 in live tournament earnings. His biggest score came just last year when he shipped the 2018 WPT LA Poker Classic main event for a seven-figure payday of $1,000,000. He continued playing poker upto being arrested. The player was arrested in Las Vegas and later extradited to Southern California.