PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A professional poker player who rolled the dice on a scheme to sell pirated movies and TV shows pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges.
The US Attorney’s Office for Oregon said Talon White netted more than $8 million in his scheme. Investigators say he set up numerous websites where he offered the pirated material.
Under a plea agreement the 29-year-old Newport man pleaded guilty to criminal infringement of copyright and tax evasion.
“White also underreported his income by more than $4.4 million, willfully evading the payment of more than $1.9 million in taxes owed from 2013 through 2017,” wrote Kevin Sonoff, the Public Affairs Officer for the US Attorney’s Office in Portland.
Earlier this year, White’s lawyer, Rain Minns told KOIN 6 News her client is a professional poker player. Several gambling websites and his Facebook page show him participating in Las Vegas Poker tournaments, including the World Series of Poker.
In May, a federal judge ordered the Internal Revenue Service to take possession of $3,926,478.11 and a sum of cryptocurrency after the U.S. Attorney for Oregon said it was earned illegally through the sale of pirated movies and television shows.
Under the deal with prosecutors, White agreed to forfeit all of the currency, as well as his house in Newport worth $415,000. Investigators with Homeland Security and the IRS believe it was purchased as part of the scheme to launder the money.
White faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine on each of the two charges when he is sentenced in February.
Homeland Security Investigation agents received a tip from PayPal about suspicious websites: www.noobroom.com and www.noobroom7.com. Federal prosecutors believe White worked with “other known and unknown co-conspirators” to operate several websites, including Superchillin.com, Movietv.to and Sit2play.com.
“Members of the public purchased subscriptions to websites created by White and were able to stream or download the video content,” wrote Sonoff. “The content included movies that had yet to be released to the public.”
In previous court filings, White’s lawyers accused the federal government of unlawfully taking his property. They told the judges he had not done anything wrong.
“We don’t generally comment on a current case, but as a matter of principle, the government should not grab a person’s assets and strip them of their resources unless and until proven guilty,” Minns told KOIN 6 News in May. Minns is a Texas lawyer who specializes in accusations of white-collar crimes.
In the first court filings in November 2018, IRS Special Agent Keith Druffel laid out a lucrative venture, with more than $6.3 million deposited into the man’s Stripes account. Stripes is a payment service, similar to PayPal.
“I determined that (he) received substantial revenue from the above listed websites. In 2018, he was averaging over $500,000 per month. In 2017, (he) received over $2.2 million. In 2016, (he) received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, (he) received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue,” wrote Druffel.
Investigators tried to find out if the man had a lucrative traditional job, which would account for the big deposits.
“(He) was found to have no verifiable legitimate income sources,” wrote Druffel.
Federal investigators worked with private investigators from the Motion Picture Association of America which tried to shut down the websites.
“As part of the plea agreement, White has agreed to pay $669,557 in restitution to the Motion Picture Association of America and $3,392,708 in restitution, including penalties and interest, to the IRS,” wrote Sonoff.