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Executive catering to social media ‘influencers’ embezzles $22m for poker tournaments and to buy crypto

By Lawrence Gash

Blieden admits to charges and faces up to 22 years in prison

Dennis Blieden, a poker champion and former executive at a major Hollywood-based marketing agency has admitted to embezzling $22m (£17m, €20m) from a company he worked for.

Blieden was financial controller and vice-president of accounts at StyleHaul, a company that provides marketing services to social media influencers.

Prosecutors say that while working for the company Blieden transferred a total of $8,47m (£6,59m, €7.69m) to his personal cryptocurrency accounts.

Records collected by the US Department of Justice show that he used company money to pay back $1,2m (£0.9m, €1.1m) in debts to other poker players and to enter two poker tournaments, costing $52,000 and $103,000.

To conceal the thefts, prosecutors say Blieden created fake entries in the company’s accounts, disguising wire transfers to his own account as payments to clients, or as equity payments owed to him by StyleHaul.

He now faces a statutory maximum sentence of 22 years in federal prison after admitting wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Blieden will be sentenced in March 2020.

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