WICHITA (AP) — A federal magistrate spared a Wichita businessman prison time after he pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in concealing the transfer of betting information from illegal poker games.
Brandon Steven, 45, was sentenced to three years of probation and 200 hours of community service. He also forfeited nearly $1.1 million as part of a plea deal on one misdemeanor count of being an accessory after the fact to the transmission of wagering information in 2016 and 2017.
The case against Steven was unsealed just hours before his combined plea and sentencing hearing in federal court in Wichita. He could have received up to a year in prison and a $125,000 fine, though the sentencing guidelines called for between zero and six months imprisonment in his case. The government agreed to recommend probation as part of the plea deal.
Prosecutors said in a news release that Steven acted in cooperation with Daven Flax, who was conducting illegal private poker games. Participants were notified via text messages about the games. The texts also contained information about payments or collections. Flax was sentenced last month in a related case to two years of probation and agreed to pay more than $117,000 in restitution.
After individual illegal poker games concluded, Steven concealed the involvement of Flax and others by hiding handwritten ledgers or other computerized records detailing gambling credits, earnings and obligations of the gambling business, according the Steven's plea agreement.
Through his actions, Steven helped Flax and others evade punishment, prosecutors said.
Steven declined to make a courtroom statement before he was sentenced. His attorney, James Hobbs, assured the judge that Steven will fulfill the terms of his sentence.
Steven and his brother are partners in health clubs, auto dealerships and other enterprises in Wichita.