Professional poker player pleads guilty to fraud, embezzling $22M and using most of it for crypto trading

Dennis Blieden, a professional poker player and a former executive at digital marketing company StyleHaul, has pled guilty to charges that he embezzled $22 million from his employer.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced the guilty plea on Friday, saying that Blieden, 30, was the controller and vice president of accounting and finance for StyleHaul between Oct. 2015 and March 2019, and abused this authority to wire company money to his personal bank account.

Blieden used the money he stole from his employer to write $1,204,000 in personal checks to poker players, $1,134,956 was used to pay off his credit cards, and $8,473,734 was transferred to Blieden’s cryptocurrency accounts, per the announcement.

“To conceal his scheme, Blieden made fraudulent entries in StyleHaul’s accounting records, falsely representing that the illegal wire transfers he made were authorized payments of money due to StyleHaul clients,” said the attorney’s office. In March 2018, Blieden won World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic (WPT LAPC) and scored a first-place prize of $1 million.

Blieden was initially indicted and taken into federal custody in July. On Friday, he pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. U.S. district judge Andre Birotte Jr. has scheduled a March 20 sentencing hearing, at which time Blieden will face a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison, per the announcement.

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Yogita Khatri is a senior reporter at The Block, covering all things crypto. As one of the earliest team members, Yogita has played a pivotal role in breaking numerous stories, exclusives and scoops. With nearly 3,000 articles under her belt, Yogita holds the records as The Block's most-published and most-read author of all time. Prior to joining The Block, Yogita worked at crypto publication CoinDesk and The Economic Times, where she wrote on personal finance. To contact her, email: [email protected]. For her latest work, follow her on X @Yogita_Khatri5.

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