This is a wild story right out of an episode of television--only this one is real. Bryan Zuriff, the executive producer behind Showtime's latest hit series 'Ray Donovan,' has been arrested and has plead guilty to charges of facilitating an interstate gambling ring.
Zuriff and thirty-four others were charged with running gambling operations that have allegedly laundered more than $100 million. The charges, a result of a massive FBI investigation, were unsealed by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney with the accused (including Zuriff) being referred to as alleged members and associates of Russian-American organized crime enterprises. So it would seem that the executive producer of 'Ray Donovan' has ties to the Russian mob.
Zuriff, known in Hollywood as a high-stakes gambler, is charged with Operating an Illegal Gambling Business and Unlawful Internet Gambling, which carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. When news of the charges broke, Zuriff's attorney Matthew E. Sloan, partner at Skadden Arps in Los Angeles, released a statement that the charges were unfounded and Zuriff looked forward to clearing his name in a court of law. It would seem, however, like that sentiment was short-lived, as Zuriff has since plead guilty to all charges in a deal that sees him remitting $500,000 and potentially serving five years in prison.
'Ray Donovan' is, ironically, about a Los Angeles "fixer" who can make the problems of the rich and famous disappear. I can see the appeal of the project, for one like Zuriff.
The indictment lists two gambling operations with alleged ties to the Russian-American mob that catered to multi-millionaires and billionaires in the U.S., Russia and the Ukraine. One of them is alleged to have laundered tens of millions of dollars from Russia and the Ukraine through Cyprus and into the U.S., while the other is described as a high-stakes illegal gambling business catering to the super-rich.
"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," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a statement released yesterday. "With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct."
Stick with TVRage for more on this strange, sprawling criminal investigation.