Ray Donovan producer Bryan Zuriff has pleaded guilty to running an illegal online gambling ring.
Zuriff, who was one of 34 people charged with running gambling operations that have allegedly laundered over $100 million, entered the plea in federal court Thursday. Zuriff is known in Hollywood as a high-stakes gambler, and was charged with operating an illegal gambling business and unlawful internet gambling, which carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
Zuriff’s attorney Matthew E. Sloan previously said that the charges “came as a complete surprise” to his client, and that he was looking forward to his day in court to fight them.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara announced the plea Friday and said Zuriff operated the gambling ring in Los Angeles and helped run one in New York.
“Bryan Zuriff spanned the coasts with his crimes, by operating his own illegal gambling enterprise in Los Angeles and helping to operate a vast illegal gambling enterprise in New York,” Bharara said in a statement. “With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct.”
Zuriff faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in November, and has agreed to forfeit $500,000 as part of a plea deal.
Bharara and others unsealed the charges in April, calling the 34 defendants “alleged members and associates of two related Russian-American organized crime enterprises.” At the time, 29 people had been arrested, with 20 taken into custody in New York on April 16. Zuriff and three others were listed as fugitives and were still being sought at the time.
Showtime renewed Ray Donovan for a second season last week, thanks to high ratings. The series stars Liev Schrieber as a Hollywood fixer for a law firm that represents the rich and famous. The pilot broke records and became the biggest premiere of all time for the network, drawing 1.35 million viewers.
“Ray Donovan is on track to be our biggest Season 1 show ever,” Showtime president David Nevins said. “[Series creator] Ann Biderman and the extraordinarily talented creative team, coupled with the brilliant ensemble cast led by Liev Schreiber, have produced one of the hottest new dramas of the year. We are proud and excited to pick up another season.”
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[Photo credit: Bryan Zuriff / Facebook]