Brent Wilkes should exploit a gap in the market – for poker players’ benefit
Just how good are you at blanking everything out and concentrating fully upon your poker?
The level of concentration necessary to be successful is startling as you need to keep a constant eye on how play progresses and how individuals react to winning as well as to defeat. If you’re having problems away from the table and they begin to prey on your mind, it’s invariably curtains for your game.
Of course, there are short cuts to achieving a level of focus few other pursuits require. Switching on an mp3 player or donning those mirrored lens shades are two of the most popular – and effective, but there’s no substitute for heading to the felt with a clear mind.
So imagine you had been convicted for bribing a government official and received a 12-year prison sentence. That’s bad enough, but assume you’ve been free on bail for more than two years, pending an appeal against your sentence. Seems you would have your plate pretty full eh? And probably not much time to partake of a few hands of poker.
Not Mr Brent Wilkes, a 56 year-old former defence contractor who was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and wire fraud in 2007. Mr Wilkes was freed from prison in February 2008 pending an appeal, which finally got under way on Monday.
Monthly Archive for July, 2010
Tagged with: poker
Bow-tie wearing hedge fund founder Paul Greenwood has pleaded guilty to defrauding San Diego County’s pension and other big institutional investors of at least $331 million.
Greenwood and partner, Stephen Walsh, ran WG Trading, which collapsed with $78 million of San Diego County retirees’ money.
Add another name to the troupe of lobbyists that the super-secret U.S. defense contractor Mina Corp/Red Star has dispatched to Capitol Hill.
Mark F. Lindsay has registered with both houses of Congress as a lobbyist for the company at the center of a congressional inquiry over $1.4 billion in contracts awarded to supply jet fuel to the U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan.
Lindsay describes his job as “work[ing] with the Administration and Congress to educate them on the mission of Mina Corp./ Red Star Enterprises Ltd.,” according to the registration form received by the House and Senate July 26.
Congress is investigating whether Mina/Red Star’s “mission” involved payments to the family of a corrupt former Kyrgyz president.
Lindsay was hired by Weil, Gotschal & Manges, which appears to be coordinating Mina Corp.’s response to the dirt kicked up by the Rep. John Tierney and his Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The registration was made in Lindsay’s role as president of White House Consulting Inc., which shares the address of of Lindsay’s employer, The Livingston Group. Lindsay joined the The Livingston Group to run its health care practice last year.
Lindsay was a member of the Obama transition team and ran the Office of Management and Administration in the Clinton White House.
The lobbyist filings exempt Mina, a foreign corporation seeking to influence the U.S. government, from the much more stringent filings required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Under FARA, Mina would be required to reveal the names, residences and nationalities of its directors and officers — the precise information it has worked so hard to conceal.
However, FARA provides an exemption for foreign corporations whose agents register under the weaker Lobbying Disclosure Act.
As a senator, Barack Obama in 2008 co-sponsored a bill that would have eliminated this exemption, the “Closing the Foreign Lobbying Loophole Act.” The bill died in the Foreign Relations Committee.
A “58-year-old retiree” is how Ultimatepoker.com described Brent “the Enigma” Wilkes after he won $10,900 in a March No-Limit Hold-’em poker tournament at Harrah’s Rincon Casino.
Sporting his new chin strap, Wilkes is a self-described “former executive consultant who is now retired and is spending much of his time writing and playing poker,” Ultimatepoker.com tells us.
He’s also a former defense contractor who was convicted of bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham with prostitutes, luxury vacations and other goodies.
Since he bailed out of prison while he appeals his conviction, The Enigma sure has been playing a lot of poker.
He made it to the finals at last year’s Rincon series, coming up just short of victory on each occasion.
Fans of the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal will recall that Wilkes was a life-long poker player. According to testimony at his trial, one of the ways Wilkes bribed Cunningham was by letting the old pilot win at poker.
Wilkes and his best friend, former CIA honcho Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, who’s now serving time in prison for fraud, hosted regular poker games at the Watergate Hotel that were the subject of much (mostly unfounded) speculation.
San Diego’s Irwin Mark Jacobs is No. 15 on the list of the decade’s top earners at publicly-traded companies, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found.
The Journal put the Qualcomm founder’s total realized compensation at $436.8 million for the period of 1999-2008. Jacobs served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from July 1985 to March 2009 and as Chief Executive Officer of the Company from July 1985 to June 2005.
For investors, Jacobs’ performance as CEO landed Qualcomm in the middle of the pack of the companies on the Journal’s list. An investor who bought $100 worth of Qualcomm shares wound up with $191.90 over that period.
The bulk of Jacobs’ compensation came in gains on stock options, which netted him $419.5 million.
Forbes estimates Jacobs’ total fortune at $1.6 billion, making him the 220th wealthiest American on the magazine’s annual ranking.
Topping the Journal’s list was the $1.84 billion realized by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
McCain/Palin campaign spokesman W. Taylor Griffin is coordinating the public relations response to Mina Corp., the secretive defense contractor that is the subject of a congressional investigation into its fuel contracts for a U.S. airbase in Kyrgzystan.
Griffin is a partner in Hamilton Place Strategies LLC, the PR firm that, as I reported yesterday, employs former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino and her former colleague, Tony Fratto.
As part of the Palin team, Griffin led a crisis communications team that dealt with the “Troopergate” affair.
Griffin was part of the communications team for the 2000 and 2004 Bush presidential campaigns, and did a stint in the Treasury Department’s Office of Public Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A secretive defense contractor that is at the center of a congressional investigation of a $1.4 billion contract to supply aviation fuel at the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan has hired a powerhouse D.C. lobbying team that includes Dana Perino and others from the Bush White House.
Congress wants to know whether the sole-source, classified contracts awarded to Mina Corp., Ltd., and Red Star Enterprises Ltd., were a vehicle for the U.S. government to deliver payoffs to the family of Kyrgyzstan leaders who were ousted amid charges of corruption linked to the Manas air base.
Mina Corp.’s fuel contract, awarded last year, is worth up to $730.9 million over three years for services at the Manas, the only U.S. airbase in Central Asia outside of Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan has also opened its own investigation, prompting the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek to say that the contract was issued in accordance with U.S. and local laws. Mina Corp has told both governments that it has never directed U.S. government funds to Kyrgyz officials.
As Congress turned up the heat on Mina and Red Star in July, the companies sent Washington lobbyists to the Hill to plead their case.
Senate lobbying disclosure forms show that on July 12 Mina Corp. hired public affairs firm Hamilton Place Strategies LLC to lobby Congress and the Defense Department.
Senate filings show the Hamilton Place team includes Perino, now a Fox News political commentator, W. Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain/Palin campaign who handled the “Troopergate” affair, and Tony Fratto, who spoke for the president on issues including intelligence matters, terrorist financing and financial crimes.
Also joining the Mina Corp. team this month were McLean, Virginia-based Dudinsky, Lisker & Associates, which says it is “monitoring and reporting Congressional activity” on behalf of Mina.” Principal Joel Lisker is a former FBI agent who headed the Justice Department’s foreign agent registration unit in the Carter years. His investigation led the president’s brother, Billy, to register as a foreign agent for Libya.
Barbour, Griffith & Rogers’ Ed Rogers, a Reagan and Bush I White House veteran, and Morris Reid, registered July 20 as lobbyists for Mina to handle a House investigation regarding Department of Defense contracts to provide jet fuel to U.S. military base in Bagham, Afghanistan.
Jeff Stein at The Washington Post’s SpyTalk blog reported last wek that after weeks of tense negotiations, a House oversight subcommittee has gotten promises of cooperation from Mina and Red Star.
“The heart of the investigation,” a source told Stein, “is why Red Star and Mina Corp. were not investigated under” the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids U.S. companies from paying bribes or kickbacks to foreign officials.”
Mina Corp. has also hired the D.C. law firm, Weil, Gotschal and Manges LLP. The Weil team includes partner William Burck, who served in the Bush White House Counsel’s office. Burck specializes in FCPA investigations among other things, according to his law firm biography.
In a press release announcing last week’s agreement between Mina, Red Star and the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Burck said maintaining his client’s secrecy was a key to the deal.
“We’ve worked closely with staff to make sure the Subcommittee obtains the information it seeks while preserving the confidentiality of the companies’ operations and the privacy of its personnel. Confidentiality is essential to permit the companies to meet the U.S. military’s needs in volatile areas of the world and supply vital fuel to our troops in the field.”
The Senate lobbying forms also raise fresh questions about who or what is behind Mina and Red Star.
The Defense Department has identified to Mina and Red Star Enterprises as companies based in Gibraltar. Mina Corp. was registered in London in 2003, records show.
The Senate lobbying disclosures identify Mina as a Dubai firm affiliated with “Mina Petroleum FZE” with an office in the Dubai Airport Free Zone. Companies operating within the free zone are treated as offshore, outside the United Arab Emirates.
Adding to the confusion, Mina’s webserver, minacorp.com, is registered in Vernier, Switzerland.
How much will a San Diego law school student pay in rent?
It’s a good question for Security Properties of Seattle, which made the first purchase of a complex with more than 100 units that downtown San Diego has seen in three years.
Security Properties of Seattle picked up the 172-unit Entrada Apartments on 13th street in the East Village, a few blocks from Petco Park, for $22 million. That’s about $127,000 per unit.
This seems like a steal. Up the block, the future home of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is under construction (you can watch on their webcam).
But there’s work to do. Security Properties says performance needs improvement. The company says that will happen when the law school relocates to downtown in January. If this devastating review is a guide, the building’s management has had some problems.
SRM Development put up the building in 2004 with a $3.5 million loan from the Centre City Development Corporation, downtown redevelopment agency. The complex has 40 units set aside for low-income housing.
Under a deal with Security Properties, CCDC will receive $600,000 up front and annual payments of $145,000. The $2.9 million balance will be fully paid off in 2015.
I heard the other day about a man who took all his money, bought gold and buried it in his backyard. The poor fellow probably listens to commentator Glenn Beck.
The incessant stream of end-of-the-world nonsense that Beck spews forth makes his incredibly popular radio and TV talk shows the ideal vehicle for gold advertisements.
An average of 9 million listeners a week makes Beck’s radio show the third most popular in America, behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Mercy Radio Arts, aka Glenn Beck Inc., took in $32 million in revenue in the past 12 months, according to Forbes magazine.
But this is not your traditional media advertising relationship:
Anyone who listens to conservative radio is getting bombarded with messages from Santa Monica-based Goldline, which boasts that it does half a billion in annual sales of gold coins and bullion
Others who offer testimonials on Goldline’s website are Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Mike Huckabee, Monica Crowley, Fred Thompson. You can listen to them shilling for Goldline here on the Goldline website.
It would seem to be a natural fit. Gold thrives on instability and chaos, and Beck is constantly hammering home the theme that the United States is highly unstable … ergo, we should buy gold. The problem is the gold that Goldline is selling often isn’t bullion, but rare coins, which are a different animal.
According to ABC News’ The Blotter, authorities in Los Angeles and Santa Monica are investigating complaints from Goldline customers say they were lied and misled in their purchases of gold coins and others who received something they didn’t order. The Santa Monica City Attorney’s office has set up a website to handle complaints.
Goldline customers are often sold gold 20 Swiss Franc and other European coins. The Missouri Secretary of State’s office found in 2006 that a Goldline agent violated state law by advising an elderly woman to sell her annuity to buy gold. The woman ultimately bought 153 Gold 20 Swiss Francs and other coins.
This is a classic bait-and-switch.
Buying a Swiss Franc coin is NOT the same as buying gold bullion or even gold American Eagles, South African Krugerrands or Canadian Maple Leafs, all of which are linked to the spot price of gold.
Gold 20 Swiss Francs, which are numismatic or rare coins, have less to do with gold spot prices and more to do with scarcity, condition and coin demand. In other words, if gold rises you still make not make any money.
Goldline charges a sizeable markup on numismatic coins. According to Goldline’s own disclosure on its website:
Our spread on semi-numismatic coins, rare or numismatic coins and rare currency currently ranges from 30% to 35%. Examples of coins which have a 30% to 35% spread include European gold coins such as the Swiss 20 Franc, the PCGS certified “First Strike®” coins, coins which have been encapsulated by a grading service such as PCGS or NGC, the Morgan and Peace silver dollars in all grades, and the Walking Liberty, Franklin and Kennedy silver half-dollars in all grades. Spreads may change based upon market conditions, availability and demand.
Here’s how this works. If the spread on a coin is 35%, then a coin Goldline is selling for $500 is really worth only $325. The coin must appreciate $175 before you earn a profit. Again the prices of these coins move independently from the price of gold.
According to a report issued in May Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, coins on the Goldline website were marked up an average of 90 percent compared to their melt values. But this is unfair: rare coins value has less to do with the price of gold and more to do with scarcity and other factors.
Mark Albarian, president and CEO of Goldline, is a coin collector. A coin collector knows what coins are worth. If you don’t, then caveat emptor — buyer beware — no matter what Glenn Beck says.