Massachusetts Congressman Grapples With UIGEA Fallout


A congressman who voted against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is now grappling with the political fallout from his wife’s guilty plea to helping her brother run an online gambling business in violation of the 2006 law.

Rep. John Tierney, D- Mass., claims he had nothing to do with his brother-in-law’s business, and says his family’s legal problems would not prevent him from voting on legislation by fellow Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank to regulate online gaming in the United States.

Tierney’s wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty on October 6 to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns related to her brother, Robert Eremian, who is a fugitive.

The congressman's wife is scheduled to be sentenced January 13. She faces two years of probation, 90 days of which would be spent in her Salem, Massachusetts home, and $2,900 in fines and fees, according to her plea bargain with prosecutors.

But the plea bargain could be rejected by Judge William Young who could yet sentence her to six months in prison.

Prosecutors said Patrice deposited tens of thousands of dollars sent to her by her brother, Robert Eremian, from Antigua, a Caribbean island nation that hosts many online gaming companies.

Eremian moved to Antigua after being investigated in 1996 for running a “large-scale illegal gambling business” that included Patrice Tierney’s older brother Daniel, her father, and her son from her first marriage, prosecutors said.

Eremian and his brother, Daniel, are among the first people charged with violating UIGEA, which prohibits the use of U.S. banks or credit cards to pay or receive gambling debts from Internet sites regardless of where the sites are located.

Other federal statutes, including the Illegal Gambling Business Act and Wire Wager Act, have more typically been cited in cases against offshore gambling companies.

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