Hillel Nahmad gets One Year in Jail over Russian Mob Gambling Ring

Neither his family’s wealth nor his billing as a top Manhatten art dealer was enough to save Hillel “Helly” Nahmad in front of U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman. Nahmad was given one year in jail for his role in helping operate a gambling ring with Russian mob ties.

Helly attempted to gain favor with the judge by offering to use some of his family’s fortune to run an art appreciation charity for children. However, Furman wasn’t having any of this as he told Nahmad that letting him avoid jail time just for starting a charity would “would breed contempt for the law.”

Nahmad has led a pretty high-profile lifestyle that includes hanging out with Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. And he’s part of an art-dealing clan that owns over 300 Picassos and is worth $900 million. But despite all of his wealth and social connections, Helly got caught up in a gambling ring that stretched from the United States to Russia.

The ring catered to high stakes poker players and sports bettors in major cities like Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow and New York. Those operating the gambling ring laundered money by setting up shell corporations in the US and Cyprus. As ABC reports, the ring brought in over $100 million during its run.

Nahmad tried to distance himself from the ring during his defense trial. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, painted his client as a “good person” who just got mixed up with the wrong people. However, wiretap evidence suggested differently, with one sentence really damning Helly. “We knock this guy off for one million bucks. His dad is a multimillionaire,” Nahmad said, when discussing a client who’d just gotten out of gambling rehab.

After listening to the evidence, Judge Furman pointed out that Nahmad wasn’t just “the rich kid who is getting used.” He also had a problem with the art dealer being shown in a photograph next to Brafman while the two were sitting courtside at a New York Knicks game. Furman felt like the two may not have taken the case seriously since the photo was taken just after Nahmad’s indictment.

Of the original 34 defendants in this case, Helly definitely got one of the stiffer sentences. But at least he didn’t suffer the same fate as Anatoly Golubchik did earlier this week. An enforcer for the mob-run gambling ring, Golubchik was sentenced to five years in prison, despite a plea deal calling for 21-27 months.