A California poker pro, who pled guilty to running a ticket scheme and scamming investors out of more than $6 million in Super Bowl and World Cup tickets, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Wednesday.
The 47-year-old from Aliso Viejo, Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli, ran a ticket business called Summit Entertainment. According to federal prosecutors, he garnered over $6 million from investors throughout Orange County, Houston, and Las Vegas, telling them he would buy tickets to the Super Bowl in 2017 and the World Cup in 2018, then sell the tickets for profit. However, after the investors wired Fazeli the money, they never received the profits.
Fazeli claimed that the NFL prohibited the resale of tickets, so he was working on a “settlement” with the league. However, he never used the money from investors to buy tickets — instead, he kept the money for personal expenses, paying back his gambling debt at a couple of Las Vegas casinos.
Last year, Fazeli pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He could have faced up to 20 years in jail and had to pay back double what he owed investors, but as of this week, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced him to 18 months in federal prison and he is ordered to pay back $7.5 million to investors. Fazeli reportedly said in a statement to the judge during his plea agreement that he is “sick to my stomach to think how much I’ve violated the law and disgraced my family.”
Additionally, poker pros John Juanda and Erik Seidel said they were scammed by Fazeli and have filed civil action against him. The Aria Casino also took action against Fazeli for his outstanding credit markers; he is believed to have played at least 10 tournaments at the casino and owes $25,000 for each buy in. The status of these suits are currently unknown.