NEW YORK -- A man accused of helping online poker companies move billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds overseas from U.S. customers was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday by a judge who called him an "unreformed con man" with a long criminal history.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan handed 54-year-old Ira Rubin one of the longest prison sentences yet in a prosecution that resulted in charges against nearly a dozen people and shut down the U.S. operations of the three largest Internet poker companies.
The government said Rubin fooled U.S. banks into processing gambling proceedings by making it appear that money moving through the poker companies was actually the proceeds of transactions on websites for golf stores and other businesses.
Kaplan called Rubin an "unreformed con man and fraudster" and rejected Rubin's claims that he was finished committing crimes after 15 convictions.
"I know this is my last chance to have a productive life," Rubin told Kaplan.
Federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of between 18 months and two years, but Kaplan said Rubin must spend additional time in prison because of the "extremely high threat" that he would commit crimes again and the need to protect society from behaviors that led Rubin in the poker case to be "brazen, quite deliberate and deceptive" in defiance of U.S. laws.
He said he had little doubt that Rubin would emerge from prison one day "trying to cook up some new scheme that in all likelihood will be illegal."
Rubin has already served 15 months in prison after he was arrested in Guatemala in April 2011 as he prepared to travel to Thailand. Authorities said the U.S. citizen had lived in Costa Rica since 2008.
In January, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to illegal gambling, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He admitted that he helped Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker hide the true nature of their transactions.
The government said Rubin had faced criminal charges in New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Florida and Virginia since the 1970s and had not yet paid an $8 million Federal Trade Commission judgment against him because of a payment-processing business he operated from 2003 to 2006 that was tied to telemarketing fraud.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said Rubin was unlikely to quickly pay a $5 million forfeiture order included in the sentencing because he had tried to stash some of his money in Costa Rica by giving gold bars to an acquaintance who does not want to part with them and he had transferred $2 million to accounts in Costa Rica.
Rubin cried at several points during the court proceeding, and his lawyer, Richard Finkel, said Rubin's parents, both in their 80s, were supporting him for the first time in decades, along with his brother, a son and other family and friends.
"I'm 54-year-old and I'm tired of running," Rubin said. "I just want to go home to my family."