Bryan Micon Pleads Guilty to Avoid Jail Time for Operating Bitcoin Poker Site
Bryan Micon, accused of operating a Bitcoin poker site out of his Las Vegas home earlier this year, returned to Nevada on Thursday to appear in Clark County Court. He has accepted a deal to plead guilty to lesser charges in hopes of avoiding jail time for committing a felony offense.
The 36 year old owner of Bitcoin poker site Seals with Clubs (SWC) would be sentenced to an as-yet undetermined length of probation. He also agreed to pay a fine of $25,000 and give up all of the properties seized by authorities back in the February raid of his home, including $900 in cash, 3.0996 in Bitcoins, and a collection of computer equipment.
In taking the deal, Bryan Micon’s attorney, Richard Schonfeld, said that the felony charges would be reduced to a gross misdemeanor. Micon declined to comment to the press after the hearing, but Schonfeld called his client’s plea bargain “an appropriate resolution”.
When police first entered Micon’s home with a search warrant in February, the Bitcoin poker site owner fled to Antigua. He’s been living there with his wife and young daughter for the last three months, refusing to return to the United States even after the Nevada Attorney General issued a warrant for his arrest in April.
According to court documents, Bryan Micon has been accused of illegally operating an unlicensed online poker operation from March 1, 2014 to February 9, 2015. Despite the date range in question, records also state that the Nevada Gaming Control Board first became aware of Seals with Clubs when an individual from Belgian complained about the Bitcoin poker site in August of 2013.
Operating an online gaming site that uses real money is illegal in Nevada, unless the proper licensing is acquired.
From his temporary residence in Antigua, Micon consistently claimed that he had done nothing wrong, based primarily on the fact that SWC was fueled by the crypto-currency, Bitcoin, rather than traditional money.
Last week, it was revealed that Bryan Micon had agreed to travel back to Clark County in order to face the charges against him. As part of the conditions of his return, a judge rescinded the arrest warrant so that Micon could turn himself in without incident. After a brief booking, he was released on his own cognizance until Thursday’s court hearing.
The plea agreement offered by prosecutors, and accepted by Bryan Micon and his defense lawyer, must still be reviewed and approved by a Clark County judge. Schonfeld explained that, if the judge fails to accept the deal and issue probation, his client will still have the option of withdrawing the guilty plea.
The original felony offense Micon faces carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison with a $50,000 fine. Which way the case will proceed is impossible to predict because, as Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt pointed out, this is the first time they have prosecuted a case involving an online poker site that utilizes digital currency like Bitcoin.
Bryan Micon is scheduled to return to the Clark County Courthouse next week.